Is Diabetic Neuropathy considered a disability by Social Security?
Diabetes is given consideration in disability applications in its own listing (listings, or listed conditions, are conditions that are specifically designated in the blue book, or Social Security Disability list of impairments) and diabetic neuropathy is given consideration within that listing.
The listing for diabetes is Impairment listing 9.08 and this listing requires a person to have a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus with one or more of the following:
1. Neuropathy evidenced by persistent and significant disorganization of motor function abilities in two extremities. The disorganization must result in constant disturbance of both gross and dexterous movements as well as gait and station.
2. Acidosis that happens on average once every two months. This must be documented by the correct blood chemical testing.
3. Retinitis proliferans is a visual impairment is evaluated using the visual impairment listings rather than the diabetes listing. Remember, Social Security is more about the limitations of function than what you specific condition is.
As a disability examiner for social security I found that most claims predicated mainly on diabetes and neuropathy alone had difficulty in gaining approval.
Having said that, though, it was also true that few cases involved only diabetes and its complications (neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy) alone. Instead, most disability cases involve a plethora of conditions, meaning that a claimant with diabetes and diabetic neuropahty, whose condition fails to meet the diabetes listing, is typically evaluated the way most claimants with non-listed impairments are evaluated.
That is, 1) the claimant's records are read and evaluated, 2) the disability adjudicator--a judge or a disability examiner, depending on the level the claim is at--determines the claimant's residual functional capacity, i.e. what they still can do, and 3) this remaining capacity is compared to the demands of the claimant's past work and the demands of other work for which it might be possible for them to transition to.
As I've said many times, the name of the condition, mental or physical, is largely irrelevant. Social security, instead, is concerned with the extent to which a claimant's condition inhibits their ability to engage in work activity.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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