Yes, diabetes is legally a disability, but what does that mean for you?

This article addresses the legal classification of diabetes as a disability and explores the options available for those who might need disability benefits. It's important to remember that most people with diabetes can live full and productive lives by managing their condition effectively. However, for some individuals, diabetes can present significant challenges that impact their ability to work.

Diabetes and the Law

Since 2009, amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act have classified diabetes as a disability due to its impact on the endocrine system. However, having diabetes doesn't automatically qualify you for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses each case individually, considering the severity of your condition and its impact on your ability to work.

Types of Disability Benefits

There are two primary types of disability benefits individuals with diabetes might be eligible for:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This program provides monthly payments to individuals unable to work due to a disability. To qualify, you must have a sufficient work history (typically at least five years of work in the past ten).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program provides monthly payments to individuals with limited income and resources who have a disability.

Qualifying for Benefits

The decision of whether you qualify for disability benefits rests with the SSA after reviewing your medical records and assessing the severity of your condition. It's essential to have documentation from your physician outlining the limitations your diabetes imposes on your ability to work.

Applying for Benefits

You can apply for disability benefits through the SSA website, by phone, in person, or through Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices. Be prepared for a lengthy process, with applications often taking 3-5 months to receive a decision. Appeals are also an option, but be aware they can take up to 2 years.

Seeking Legal Help

While legal representation isn't mandatory, consulting a lawyer specializing in disability law can be beneficial, especially during the appeals process.


Remember, diabetes doesn't define you. Many individuals with diabetes lead fulfilling lives and successful careers. However, for those facing significant challenges due to their condition, disability benefits can offer essential support. This article provides a starting point for understanding your rights and exploring potential options.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified professional for personalized guidance.