Facts about Type 2 Diabetes and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1) It is estimated that there are over 23 million people in the United States with diabetes, and 90 percent of those 23 million have type 2 diabetes. That is 8 percent of the United States population. It is also estimated that nearly 24 percent of diabetes cases are left undiagnosed. Nearly 20 percent of all Americans over age 65 have type 2 diabetes.
2) Type 2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as 'adult-onset diabetes', since it used to be diagnosed most commonly in the adult years after a lifetime of inactivity and poor nutrition. As obesity rates in children limb, more and more children are increasingly being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
3) Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood (blood glucose). It most often occurs with obesity and insulin resistance. Many cases of diabetes can be managed by regular exercise and healthy eating habits. The best diet for someone with type 2 diabetes is one that is low in fat and high in soluble fiber.
4) Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can range from fatigue, blurred vision, and increased thirst and appetite, to increased urination, unexplained weight loss, slow healing infections, and erectile dysfunction.
5) If not properly managed, type 2 diabetes can cause complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and even amputation of limbs.
6) Treatments for type 2 diabetes can vary greatly, depending upon the progression of the disease. Some people may manage symptoms through self monitoring their blood glucose, making dietary changes, exercising, and losing weight, while others will progress to the point of needing to take insulin and/or oral medications such as Metformin. Some will finally elect for gastric bypass surgery.
7) The most common medications for type 2 diabetes are meglitinides such as nateglinide and exenatide, oral sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides such as Metoformin, and injectible medications such as pramlintide and exenatide.
Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition
Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.
This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).
Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
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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