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​​Is Type 2 Diabetes Considered a Disability?

Published on 
September 3, 2023
July 27, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

If you’ve wondered what type of diabetes is considered a disability and if you can file for disability benefits, here’s the scoop.

If you have diabetes, you know firsthand how much the diagnosis can impact your life. It may even affect your ability to work. So, is diabetes a disability and, specifically, is type 2 diabetes considered a disability? In a nutshell: Yes. But even though diabetes can be classified as a disability, it doesn’t mean that disability needs to limit your life.

Take Virta member Jack. When he was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure several years ago, he slowed down because he felt he needed to be more careful. But everything changed when he joined Virta: he lost 80 pounds and decreased his A1c. Now, he’s back to playing one of his favorite sports.

“I love stickball, but I had stopped playing in the early 2000s because I didn’t feel like I could do it anymore,” says Jack. “This year, I finally got to play stickball again. Our team went to Mississippi to play in the World Series of Stickball. My wife and I both started training to run in a 5k. I have much more energy now. I’m exercising again and I’m much more active.”

Why is diabetes considered a disability?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are protected as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that if you have diabetes, you’re protected from discrimination and unfair treatment at work. Legally, your employer cannot treat you differently regarding hiring, firing, pay, job training, fringe benefits, promotion or discipline because you have diabetes.

Under federal law, diabetes is considered a disability because it limits how well your endocrine system functions. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating your blood sugar and insulin. It’s also worth noting that diabetes can be considered an “invisible” disability, meaning it limits what your internal systems can do, even if your symptoms aren’t visible to others.

You can ask your employer for “reasonable accommodations” at work, like:

  • A place to keep food and diabetes supplies nearby.
  • A different type of work schedule, such as a standard shift.
  • Breaks to take your medication, check your blood sugar levels, have a snack or use the restroom.
  • Permission to sit in a chair or stool while working if you have diabetic neuropathy, a nerve disorder caused by diabetes.
  • A large-screen computer monitor or assistive device if you have diabetic retinopathy, a vision disorder caused by diabetes.

Can a person with diabetes claim disability?

Some people with diabetes can get disability benefits. However, you must have serious complications from diabetes or be unable to control your diabetes to qualify for disability benefits. If you have serious complications or trouble managing diabetes, talk to your physician about your options.

What benefits are a person with diabetes entitled to?

If you are unable to get your diabetes under control or have severe symptoms, you may be eligible for certain disability benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

There are also work-sponsored short- and long-term disability plans. Your benefits will depend on your employer’s plan. Also, each state has varying laws about its benefits programs. Talk with your employer’s human resources (HR) department or your supervisor to learn about your specific benefits plan.

The Takeaway

Diabetes is considered a disability and protected as such under the American Disability Act. However, just because type 2 diabetes is a disability doesn’t mean it’s irreversible. If you want to try, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

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