On June 7, 2011 the Social Security Administration (SSA) removed endocrine disorders from its listing of impairments used to evaluate whether a claimant is disabled. The endocrine disorders are evaluated under Listings 9.00-9.08. One major step in the SSA’s disability process, especially for claimants under 50 years of age, is determining whether the claimant’s impairment meets a medical listing. For claimants who suffer from Diabetes or other endocrine disorders, it will now be very difficult to obtain benefits via a listing.
In its reasoning for eliminating the endocrine listing, the SSA proffered that “advances in medical treatment in the detection” of endocrine disorders would keep one from meeting the 12-month durational requirement for benefits. The SSA indicated it has been advised by medical experts, that the current listing regarding diabetes reflects only inadequate glucose regulation; and that adequate glucose regulation is achievable with improved treatment options. The SSA indicated that, if the endocrine disorders cause problems of listing-level severity in other organs, they will be evaluated under those other body system listings.
If an attorney is representing a claimant with diabetes, he or she will now have to prove the claimant’s impairments meet another set of listings. For example, if the claimant’s diabetes affects their kidneys enough, they can be evaluated under 6.00 Genitourinary Impairments; or the argument could be made that the claimant’s diabetes effects his or her residual functional capacity enough that the claimant cannot perform work on a regular and continuing basis pursuant to Social Security Ruling 96-8p. If a claimant is over 50, there are a set of medical-vocational guidelines which can also be used in trying to obtain benefits.
The long-term practical impact of this change is yet to be determined; but, in making this decision, the SSA is hypothesizing that everyone has accessibility to proper medical treatment, as well as the intelligence or financial
ability to maintain an adequate diet and administer insulin at appropriate times. The SSA is presuming there are no issues regarding obtaining adequate medical treatment, being able to buy the proper food while on food stamps, and having the knowledge of how to use sliding scale insulin in the most effective manner. Even the American Diabetes Association notes that “diabetes can cause a range of short-term and long-term complications that, separately or together, can severely limit an individual’s ability to work or function.” In its recommendation for changes to Listing 9.08, the ADA stated only that episodes of severe hypoglycemia should be included.
Matt Garner, Esq.