The Effects of Diabetes in the Workplace and Social Security Disability Benefits

Diabetes remains one of the prevalent non-communicable diseases in the United States. At least 10% of the population had been diagnosed with type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes.

Around 170,000 are living in Utah, according to the CDC. Experts believe that thousands more may have the disease but don’t know it yet as the symptoms may be less prominent.

With many people with diabetes in the country, it isn’t surprising that the disease also invades the workplace. The question is, does the illness affect the patient’s performance? Can someone with the condition file Social Security disability claims?

The Interrelationship between the Workplace and Diabetes

Diabetes leads to many complications, particularly when it remains undiagnosed or untreated. Some may eventually affect the productivity and well-being of an employee:

  • People with diabetes are prone to musculoskeletal issues such as joint pain and swelling. According to studies, nearly 50% of people with diabetes also develop arthritis, while those who have the latter increase their risk of diabetes by an overwhelming 61%.
  • Because of the disease’s impact on the joints, people with the condition may suffer from muscle stiffness and limited mobility.
  • Abnormally high levels of glucose can damage nerves in the long-term. Diabetics may eventually develop eyesight problems that range from cataracts to glaucoma. They may also experience tingling of the nerves, especially on the fingers.
  • In 2020, a University of Bristol research revealed an association between lower hand-grip strength and the risk of developing diabetes.

Meanwhile, a European study aimed to compare the absences of people with diabetes and the general population. Based on the results, diabetics were likely to be absent more frequently than those without the disease.

The average number of days they were out of work was over 31 days, mainly due to complications. That of the non-diabetic employees was only 16 days.

On the other hand, the workplace may worsen or encourage the development of diabetes. Take, for example, sedentary work. Prolonged sitting and the lack of physical activity could slow down the metabolism. It increases the risk of obesity and chronic inflammation, both of which are risk factors of diabetes.

work place

Can Diabetics Get Disability Benefits?

With the possible long-term negative effects of the disease, many people with diabetes believe they are entitled to disability claims. In reality, not all applications are approved.

One of the reasons is the definition of disability by Social Security. According to the administration, disability is a condition that prevents a person from getting employment. Further, the illness may eventually lead to death or may have been going on for at least 12 months upon filing the claim.

Many people with diabetes are employed and can keep their jobs for a long period. This is because the disease can be controlled with lifestyle and medications. Experts also believe that breakthroughs are coming, which may further extend the lifespan of diabetics.

It is for this reason that Social Security removed diabetes as a disability in its Blue Book listing. In other words, a patient cannot claim disability benefits using the illness as a reason.

Fortunately, with the help of an expert in Social Security disability claims, one may dispute the decision or find another way to be entitled to it.

One option is to show proof that the disease causes complications that may interfere with their job performance. For instance, the condition may have led to uncontrolled tremors or significant vision loss.

Diabetes can be an expensive disease. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the economic cost of a diagnosis reached over $327 billion in 2017. It was a massive increase of at least 25% compared to the organization’s previous estimate in 2012.

While diabetics may still find work, others may not because of the complications. Getting Social Security disability benefits can help supplement their income and provide funds for long-term care.

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