According to the New York City Department of Health, 5,695 people in New York City died from diabetes and diabetes related complications in 2011. People with diabetes and related conditions may consider applying for Social Security disability if unable to work. Diabetes patients who are denied benefits may have to go through the appeal process, which may eventually require a hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Social Security Disability Hearings

When an applicant first applies for disability, he or she submit a detailed application along with many medical records to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for review by Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS uses a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) report to determine if the individual is disabled. A claimant can request reconsideration where someone else in the DDS will review your application. The application may then appeal the ruling for a hearing in front of an ALJ.

Hearings can take a few months to schedule. The hearings are scheduled within 75 miles of the claimant’s home. Sometimes the hearings are done via videoconference which can reduce wait and travel times.

At the hearing, the claimant and their representative issue testimony, question witnesses, and submit evidence to the ALJ. Parties at the hearing are under an oath to tell the truth. Some examples of witnesses that are commonly called at hearings include doctors, vocational specialists and the claimant’s past employers.

What does it take to prove a disability for diabetes?

Your application may have been denied because the SSA determined you did not meet the disability requirements. If that’s the case, you will have to demonstrate that you do in fact meet the requirements.

There are two ways to prove any disability to SSA: Either the claimant meets one of SSA’s “listings” (definitions) of a disability or the claimant proves that based on age, skill level and disability, he or she cannot perform any job in the national economy. Diabetes does not have a specific listing in SSA’s Listing of Impairments (or Blue Book), but many complications that arise from diabetes, including cardiac arrhythmias, amputations, blindness and coronary artery disease, are in the Blue Book.

Applicants must submit sufficient evidence to prove their case. Medical records, employment records, testimony from vocational experts and other evidence may help prove disability. The claimant’s doctor may provide an RFC to establish that the claimant is unable to work and in fact meets the disability requirements.

Do I need legal representation for my hearing?

Claimants are not required to hire legal counsel to represent them at a disability hearing, but a lawyer may help make a strong case to the ALJ. Social Security rules are difficult to navigate in some cases, and acquiring the evidence that claimants submit to SSA can be daunting. Lawyers have specialized knowledge with the disability process and can use it to help a claimant make a strong case for their eligibility for disability benefits.

Markhoff & Mittman is committed to being a legal advocate for the rights of the disabled in and around New York City. Contact our office at 866-205-2415 to set up a consultation with an attorney.