Although the dangerously high blood sugar levels that result from hyperglycemia can often be controlled through proper treatment, diet, and other lifestyle modifications, some individuals continue to experience chronic blood sugars issues despite following their doctors’ prescribed therapies. Diabetes is associated with this condition and uncontrolled blood sugars can result in severe acute and long-term complications, which may in turn qualify you for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Medically Qualifying with Hyperglycemia
The SSA uses a manual known as the Blue Book to evaluate Social Security Disability (SSD) claims. Within this manual are listings of disabling conditions and the medical evidence the SSA must see in order to award benefits. Hyperglycemia appears in Section 9.00ii which requires you suffer from:
- Chronic, long-term, and abnormally high blood sugar levels
- Long-term diabetic complications
Diabetes and hyperglycemia can affect multiple body systems and organs, causing serious, even life-threatening complications. Because every case is different, the SSA reviews applications under the listings for the body system or organs affected in each case. These may include the following, all of which are noted within the Hyperglycemia listing in Section 9.00ii:
- Section 1.00 - diabetic peripheral neurovascular disease, gangrene, and amputation
- Section 2.00 – diabetic retinopathy
- Section 4.00 – peripheral vascular disease and coronary artery disease
- Section 5.00 – diabetic gastroparesis
- Section 6.00 – diabetic nephropathy
- Section 8.00 – persistent fungal or bacterial skin infections
- Section 11.00 – diabetic peripheral neuropathy and sensory neuropathy
- Section 12.00 – depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments
Each of these listings details the types of medical evidence required for proving disability and the severity level of the symptoms you must experience in order to qualify for benefits from the SSA. When applying for benefits and submitting medical records, it is crucial you review the Blue Book listings that apply to your claim and ensure your medical records contain the appropriate documentation for satisfying the SSA’s evidentiary requirements.
Let your doctor know you intend to apply for disability and gain his or her assistance in understanding the Blue Book listings for the symptoms you suffer. Your physician can additionally help you build appropriate documentation for proving disability, including:
- ordering any missing diagnostic evaluations
- a detailed statement for inclusion in your medical records, describing:
- your condition,
- all of your symptoms,
- your prognosis,
- and the effects of your hyperglycemia on your everyday abilities, including your ability to maintain gainful employment and perform typical job functions.
It is important to note that not all disability claims are approved at the initial review stage. If your medical records do not match a listed condition in the Blue Book, the SSA may consult multiple listings and review your activities of daily living to determine if you are indeed disabled and unable to hold gainful employment.
To do so, they will need thorough medical records and information from you and your physician to determine your “residual functional capacity,” or RFC, which essentially means they need to evaluate your ability to perform everyday functions that are similar to those required for employment.
If your RFC shows you are so limited by your hyperglycemia and subsequent complications that you are unable to reasonably be expected to work, then you will receive benefits under a medical vocational allowance. This just means you qualify for benefits without meeting or matching any Blue Book listing.
Getting Help with Your Claim
You should also be prepared to request a second review or file an appeal if your application is initially denied. It is not unusual for SSD claims to take several months to proceed through the first, second, and final review stages, and you must be prepared to hang on through the full process to get the benefits you need. It is helpful to provide additional medical records and other documentation in support of your claim for benefits if you are denied. Continue to work closely with your physician and consider consulting a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate in your continued pursuit of benefits.
An attorney or advocate can help you build a strong case, including additional documentation that more clearly demonstrates the affects of your hyperglycemia on your ability to work. If you must request a second review or file an appeal, they can help with these steps as well, and can represent you in the appeal hearing, if necessary.