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I Can’t Afford Insulin. Can I Still Get Disability Benefits?


For people living with diabetes, an insulin shot can literally be the difference between life and death. Yet over the past few years, insulin prices have skyrocketed. In just 4 years from 2012 to 2016, a single dose of insulin doubled in price (the net cost of producing insulin, however, only rose about 6 to 10 percent).

Colorado was the first state to institute a cap on insulin prices to reduce the amount customers have to pay out of pocket. However, the median cost of insulin is still around $200 per month — and that’s not including the cost of insulin pumps, syringes, test strips, or visits to the doctor’s office.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, missing even a single dose can be deadly. Some must choose between insulin and other medications; some take lower doses than recommended, or skip refills entirely.

Diabetes is considered an impairment by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and can qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, the SSA requires proof of treatment for any condition listed. And if you can’t afford insulin to treat your diabetes, then you likely won’t be approved for disability.

How Severe is Your Condition?

It is possible to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes enough to hold a steady job. Federal law classifies diabetes as a disability. But the SSA does not consider diabetes alone to be enough to warrant disability benefits because it doesn’t keep you from working on its own.

When you apply for disability, you must prove how complications from diabetes keep you from maintaining gainful employment. Some complications that can arise from diabetes and hinder your ability to work include:

  • Weakness or loss of feeling in the hands or arms
  • Weakening vision or blindness
  • Seizures (caused by extremely high or extremely low blood glucose levels)
  • Severe anxiety or depression
  • Heart, liver, or kidney disease

To qualify for disability benefits, you must show how these complications keep you from working or will keep you from working for at least a year. You also must show that you have been following a treatment plan for diabetes.

Uncontrolled Diabetes


Your diabetes is “uncontrolled” if your blood sugar levels are outside of a healthy range. Luckily, having uncontrolled diabetes won’t disqualify you from receiving disability – unless you ignored your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.

The SSA will not approve you for disability if you know you have the disease and do not get treatment for it. Their assumption is that your condition wouldn’t have stopped you from working if you had just followed your doctor’s orders.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and cannot afford insulin, you would not qualify for disability because you are not following the prescribed treatment.

How an Attorney Could Help

It feels like a catch-22. To get disability you have to be treating your diabetes, but you can’t afford to treat your diabetes because you don’t work, which is why you need disability in the first place, which you can’t get because…and so on.

If you can’t work because of complications from diabetes, a local Social Security disability attorney can help with the application process. If you have been denied, a disability attorney can walk you through the next steps of your claim.

Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free consultation. Also, be sure to download our free book, Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, to learn more about the application process.