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Qualifying for Social Security Benefits With Diabetes Complications

Guest Post by Disability Benefits Help

If you’re unable to manage your diabetes with lifestyle changes and medication, you may be eligible for assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly disability benefits for people who are unable to work due to an illness or injury that will last for at least 12 months. While it is challenging to qualify with diabetes, those with significant complications may be eligible for help.

Medical Eligibility Via the Blue Book

The SSA uses its own medical guidebook of eligibility criteria, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when deeming eligibility status. Diabetes is not listed as a disabling condition in the Blue Book, but some of its complications are. Here are a couple of listings you may be able to qualify under:


An amputation alone also will not qualify for disability benefits, but you will be eligible if you can meet any one of the following criteria:

  • You have both hands amputated
  • You have two limbs amputated but you’re unable to walk without use of two crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair
  • You have an amputation at the hip

If your mobility is severely limited, you should be able to qualify under the amputation listing. Keep in mind that this listing is for people who are unable to successfully use artificial limbs. If you’re able to walk with an artificial limb, you will not qualify here.


Neuropathy will also qualify under the Blue Book. The first listing states that you’ll be eligible if you have neuropathy in at least two limbs and it makes it impossible for you to either stand from a seated position, balance while standing upright, or walk without using crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair.

If you still have some mobility but it’s affecting your ability to work, you will also qualify if you have significant difficulty with any one of the following areas of intellectual function:

  • Understanding, remembering, and applying information
  • Interacting with others in a work setting
  • Concentrating and completing tasks
  • “Adapting oneself,” which means controlling emotions in a work setting

The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review it with your doctor to determine if you qualify. There are dozens of listings that may be relevant for people with diabetes, including cardiovascular disorders, additional mobility problems, and more.

Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for disability is online on the SSA’s website. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person with the assistance from a Social Security representative. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person at your closest SSA office.

It should take three to five months to hear back from the SSA regarding your claim. The more disabilities and complications of diabetes you list on your application, the better your odds of approval.


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Insurance Gaps Put Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes at Increased Risk

Over the past few years, health insurance has gone through some major changes. Since type 1 diabetes requires constant monitoring and daily management with insulin, having insurance coverage is essential to help offset costs and promote effective self-care. A recent study found that individuals who experience gaps in private healthcare insurance coverage may be at greater risk for health crises.

The study involved data collected from approximately 169,000 adults with type 1 diabetes between the ages of 19 and 64 during the time period of early 2001 to mid-2015. Researchers evaluated this data and found that visits to the emergency room, hospital, or urgent care were five times more likely when patients regained coverage after a gap in insurance of 30 to 60 days. When the coverage gap expanded to 91 to 120 days, those individuals were seven times more likely to visit the emergency room, hospital, or urgent care.

These visits can be incredibly costly, but risk can be reduced with consistent insurance coverage and self-care under the direction of a physician. The study found that young adults – those in their 20s and 30s – were more likely to experience gaps in coverage than middle-aged and older adults. What part of the country individuals resided in played a role as well, with the north-central and southern parts of the United States seeing higher rates of gaps.

Since type 1 diabetes affects approximately 1.25 million Americans, it is essential that quality care and insurance coverage are available to support improved health and well-being and reduce the risk of preventable health crises.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is passionate about exploring various aspects of type 1 diabetes from prevention and treatment to potential cures and improved quality of life. The DRC provides valuable funding to support novel research studies regarding this condition. To learn more about current projects or donate to these efforts, visit Our Projects.

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Breaking Down the Prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes affects people of all ages and races throughout the United States, but just how many people are impacted? According to a self-report study of 33,028 adults with a response rate of 54.3%, approximately 21 million adults (8.6%) in the United States were living with type 2 diabetes in 2016, and approximately 1.3 million (0.55%) were living with type 1 diabetes.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked participants a variety of questions regarding being diagnosed with diabetes and what methods were used to manage it. Responses were classified as type 1, type 2, or “other” type of diabetes. There were 182 participants who reported having type 1 diabetes but did not claim to take any type of insulin, so they were categorized as type 2 respondents. Out of the 33,028 participants, 3,519 reported having diabetes, and 211 of those reported having type 1 diabetes. The study also found that T1D was more prevalent in men than women (0.64% vs. 0.46%), and as well as in non-Hispanic whites versus Hispanics (0.67% and 0.22% respectively).

Study authors hope that “knowledge about national prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes might facilitate assessment of the long-term cost-effectiveness of public health interventions and policies aimed at improving diabetes management and help to prioritize national plans for future type-specific health services.”

Though it may seem like a small percentage who have T1D, it is still more than a million people who struggle each day with this disease, and more than a million people who would benefit from advanced research and treatment options. The Diabetes Research Connection seeks to further knowledge, research, and interventions regarding type 1 diabetes as well and supports novel research studies focused on this condition. Early career scientists can receive valuable funding through the DRC to support their research projects. Check out the current studies and support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Benefit from Medical Alert Systems?

Patients living with type 1 diabetes do a whole lot of balancing. Aside from having to always keep their blood sugar and insulin levels in check, they also need to make sure that they strike the perfect balance between the medication they take, the food they eat and the exercises they do. The good news, however, is that it’s becoming a lot easier for patients to keep track of their levels thanks to emerging diabetes technologies. Moreover, companies are getting closer to perfecting closed-loop systems that aim to automate as much of the monitoring and treatment processes as possible so the patient can focus on things that they care about. Does this mean, therefore, that there’s no longer any need for patients to invest in medical alert systems? Well, the short answer is not quite.

Consider the possible complications

While the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are quite manageable, the complications can be a bit trickier. Aside from eye, nerve and kidney damage, it can also cause heart and blood vessel issues, which could lead to heart attacks. Needless to say, whenever a heart attack happens, time is always of the essence. The faster the patient is given proper treatment, the bigger their chances of survival. This is where the ability to quickly contact emergency services comes in. Medical alert systems make it possible for patients to easily call for help even if they are alone or, for some reason, incapacitated.

They’re meant to augment the patient’s existing tools

Again, living with type 1 diabetes requires the patient to keep track and balance a lot of things. This means that a simple change in one thing—like the type of exercises they do or the food they eat—could easily change their body’s overall dynamic. This, of course, could lead to all sorts of unforeseen issues—which is another reason why it’s crucial for patients to have some form of medical alert system in their diabetes toolkits at all times.

Readiness is key

It’s definitely becoming so much easier for patients with type 1 diabetes to live with their condition. With modern tools for monitoring and treatment becoming more and more sophisticated, the risk for serious complications has gone down significantly. This, however, does not mean that it’s okay to be complacent. At the end of the day, medical alert systems still give patients a significantly better fighting chance in case something goes wrong, and that’s definitely not an opportunity anyone should pass on.

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42 Factors That Affect Blood Glucose

Adam Brown with diaTribe put together a comprehensive list of 42, yes you read that right, 42 factors that affect blood glucose in Type 1 Diabetes. In his article, Adam states “I know what you’re thinking – 42 factors that affect blood glucose? Are you kidding?!”

“Yes, it is indeed daunting, but I also hope it’s a reminder of what each of us takes on daily: A LOT! Plus, this list reveals many levers we can pull when trying to improve.”

To learn more about this AMAZING list and organization, click here.



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Stem-Cell Derived Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes Funded to Move Forward

Scientists have been exploring many options for treating and potentially curing type 1 diabetes (T1D) in recent years. From examining the role of gut cells to creating an artificial pancreas, the studies have been diverse. Some challenges that they have faced are undesirable side effects, short-term effects, the need for immune suppression, and continued destruction of insulin-producing cells.

However, Semma Therapeutics recently secured $114 million in Series B financing to move forward with a program using encapsulated stem cell-derived islets to treat and potentially cure T1D. This financing was made possible through investments from multiple partners and investors. It will be used to advance the stem-cell derived therapy through clinical proof-of-concept in patients.

The technology and processes used by Semma have the ability to create billions of insulin-producing beta cells that perform in the same way these cells do when naturally produced by the body. However, these cells are combined with an innovative cell delivery technology that protects them from being destroyed by the body’s immune system. Ideally, this would enable them to continue regulating blood sugar while reducing the risk of complications and the need for constant blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections.

According to Semma Therapeutics Founder and Board Observer Douglas Melton, “Semma’s scientists have very effectively dedicated themselves to systems that reliably generate cells indistinguishable from human pancreatic beta cells and to the invention of novel devices that are immunologically protective and surgically practical. We’re very encouraged and excited about the potential this program has for diabetic patients and their families.”

The Diabetes Research Connection is eager to see how this program could impact the lives of those living with T1D, as well as the progress and direction of treatment options moving forward. The Diabetes Research Connection is not connected to this project, but raises funds to support early career scientists in conducting novel research in preventing, treating, and curing T1D, as well as improving quality of life for individuals with the disease. To learn more, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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How Technology is Changing Diabetes Care and Treatment

Despite years of research and clinical trials, no cure for type 1 diabetes exists yet. However, how the disease is managed and treated has changed, leading to vast improvements in quality of life. Many individuals are better able to track their blood sugar and administer insulin more effectively to reduce instances of hypoglycemia and other complications. A recent article explores how technology has impacted current research for type 1 diabetes.

For years, researchers were focused on developing immunotherapies to try to treat T1D at its source. With this type of diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells from the pancreas. The goal was to either reverse the disease or stop it from developing in the first place. Today, researchers have shifted their focus. Instead of trying to figure out how to prevent diabetes, some scientists are working to improve how patients live with the disease. This has involved major leaps in medicine including attempts at developing an artificial pancreas system that would function similar to the body’s own pancreas to regulate blood sugar.

Over the years, researchers have experimented with a variety of immune therapies trying to find an approach that could treat diabetes without a host of unpleasant side effects. This has been a difficult process and not yet produced a significantly effective treatment. However, there have continued to be technological advances that have improved how patients manage diabetes. It is easier than ever to quickly test blood sugar, and some patients even have continuous glucose monitors that send information to their smartphone and alert to low blood sugar. There have also been many improvements in more accurate dosing and administering insulin.

In 2016, scientists made progress toward creating an “artificial pancreas” system. It combined a continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump to modulate insulin delivery based on data over time. It is not yet fully automated, however, because patients still must calculate their insulin dosage during meal times. But it did have benefits for reducing hypoglycemia overnight. This technology has opened doors for others to begin testing different approaches for creating a fully automated insulin delivery artificial pancreas system. While not a “cure” for type 1 diabetes, it could help improve management of the disease while decreasing the burden on patients.

There is still a great deal of research and work to be done before this type of treatment comes to fruition. And once it exists, there is no guarantee that every patient would choose to use it, just like not all patients choose to have continuous glucose monitors. But it would be another option that exists and could potentially have a significant impact on people’s lives.

The Diabetes Research Connection recognizes the life-changing impact that a T1D diagnosis has, and supports early career scientists in moving forward with novel research projects focused on preventing, curing, or managing type 1 diabetes. Through donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations, research funding is made possible. To learn more about current projects or make a donation, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could There be More than two Types of Diabetes?

and affects their body. Typically type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood and type 2 diabetes develops later in life. However, a team of researchers in Europe and Asia may have identified another form of diabetes: maturity-onset diabetes of the young or MODY.

According to the researchers, MODY is believed to be “caused by a gene mutation and fueled by a lack of the insulin-stimulating hormone GIP.” Individuals with this condition have a mutation of the gene RFX6. Subjects of the study had typically developed MODY by the time they were 25, were not obese, were not insulin-dependent, and had an autosomal dominant inheritance of diabetes.

The researchers believe that the gene mutation results in the pancreas decreasing its insulin secretion, which is common in individuals with diabetes. However, subjects also had lower levels of the GIP hormone which stimulates and regulates insulin secretion. Researchers are hopeful that the creation of GIP analogs may help to treat MODY.

One challenge they have faced is distinguishing between individuals with type 1 or early-onset type 2 diabetes versus those who may have MODY. Improvements in gene testing and sequencing have allowed them to better identify RFX6 mutations.

As scientists and researchers develop a better understanding of diabetes, its forms, and how it impacts the body, it allows for more personalized treatment options. Individuals can find what works best for their specific type of diabetes and their body’s needs. The Diabetes Research Connection encourages and supports novel studies on type 1 diabetes to expand understanding and treatment approaches. Early career scientists receive up to $50,000 in funding for research projects. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could Blood Stem Cells Be Used to Reverse Type 1 Diabetes?

Researchers know that in individuals with type 1 diabetes, the body mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells that are used to regulate blood sugar levels. One of the challenges in treating T1D is finding a way to stop this process, or safely introducing new cells to take their place but protecting them from the body’s autoimmune response. This has proven difficult.

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital may have found a way to overcome these challenges by combining the patient’s own blood cells with a healthy PD-L1 gene or a targeted molecule “cocktail” of interferon beta, interferon gamma, and polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid. Both of these approaches had the same effect.

Scientists found that the problem with current treatments involving immunotherapy or injecting patients with their own blood stem cells is that these cells are still defective in producing PD-L1, a protein that helps protect against T1D. By introducing a healthy PD-L1 gene (or the “cocktail”) in mice with diabetes, the disease was reversed. In nearly all of the mice, the diabetes was cured in the short term, and in one-third of the mice, these results were long-term. In addition, there were no adverse effects of the treatment.

The researchers are working on gaining approval for human trials to test this therapy, and partnering with Fate Therapeutics to create a pill that would introduce these healthier blood stem cells. More extensive testing is necessary to determine how long the treatment is effective and how frequently it would need to be re-administered. However, it is encouraging to see the initial reversal of T1D in mice and what that may mean in the future for humans with the disease.

The Diabetes Research Connection strives to help early career scientists continue advancing research and treatment options for type 1 diabetes. With the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations, novel research projects can receive up to $50,000 in funding. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Potential Benefits of Incorporating Metformin in Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

Traditionally metformin is a drug used to help control blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, a recent study examined its effects in patients with type 1 diabetes. More specifically, the study looked at the impact on vascular health because individuals with T1D tend to be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on 90 children in South Australia between the ages of 8 and 18 who had been diagnosed with T1D for at least six months. Half the of participants received metformin, and the other half received a placebo. A baseline vascular function was determined at the start of the trial and then tested at three, six, and 12 months. In addition, HbA1C, insulin dose, and BMI were also recorded at each visit. Throughout the trial, participants were asked about any side effects they may be experiencing so that therapy could be adjusted accordingly. Treatment compliance was also tracked.

The results showed that over the course of one year, vascular function improved in the metformin group compared to the control group. The difference was most noticeable at the three-month interval, and this is also when there was the greatest improvement in HbA1C levels for those in the metformin group. The difference was lower at the 12-month mark, but still significant. In addition, children in the metformin group also showed a decrease in the amount of insulin required over 12 months. Children with above-average BMIs who were taking metformin also showed improvement in vascular smooth muscle function. Overall, there were positive results for children with T1D taking metformin as compared to those receiving a placebo. However, the study was not continued long enough to determine potential changes in vascular structure, only vascular function.

With further testing, this could lead to more diverse treatment options for individuals with type 1 diabetes to help better control blood sugar and maintain a higher quality of life. It is these types of changes, as well as advancements in the treatment and prevention of T1D, that the Diabetes Research Connection aims to support. By funding novel research projects, the Diabetes Research Connection helps early career scientists to keep their work moving forward. Visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org to learn more.

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