Is It Possible to Get Disability for Hypoglycemia?

Getting disability benefits for hypoglycemia along is rare but not impossible.

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If you suffer from hypoglycemia that is severe enough to interfere with your ability to work, you may be able to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)). Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your glucose, commonly known as blood sugar, levels dip abnormally low. The condition is generally associated with diabetes, although there are some rare conditions that can also lead to hypoglycemia in individuals who do not have diabetes. Chronic hypoglycemia is usually an indicator of a greater health problem.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia That Can Interfere With Work

When an individual first begins to suffer from hypoglycemia, they can have any of the following symptoms:

  • confusion or irritability
  • abnormal behavior, like the inability to complete routine tasks
  • headaches
  • heart palpitations or a racing pulse
  • shakiness and sweating
  • hunger, and
  • weakness.

These symptoms, if recognized as hypoglycemia, can be quickly stopped by eating a high sugar food or taking medications. However, if they go undetected and untreated, as in people who have hypoglycemia unawareness, symptoms can become worse. These symptoms can include:

  • decreased coordination
  • decreased concentration
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures, or
  • coma.

If an individual does not receive help, hypoglycemia can lead to death.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits for Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia does not have a specific listing in Social Security's "Blue Book" (a listing of impairments that qualify for disability), but Listing 9.0, Endocrine Disorders, indicates that hypoglycemia can be assessed based on two other listed impairments to which it can lead. These listings are:

  • seizures, and
  • decreased mental capacity and confusion.
If you have frequent seizures that interfere with your daytime activities, you may be able to get disability benefits. See our article on when you can get disability for seizures for information on the criteria for meeting the seizure listing.
If you are frequently confused due to low blood sugar and your decreased mental capacity/cognitive capabilities interfere with your ability to take care of yourself, function socially, or focus and keep up with work, you may be able to get disability benefits. See our post on disability and neurocognitive disorders for more information.

While it's unlikely you'll meet one of Social Security's listings due to hypoglycemia, you can qualify for disability benefits if you can show you are unable to work due to your symptoms. Social Security will assess your abilities using a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

Many of the physical and mental impairments associated with hypoglycemia, including confusion, shakiness, and anxiety, can be quickly resolved by eating high sugar food or medication. However, in jobs requiring physical labor, even short periods of confusion or shakiness can be unsafe. If your past jobs all included physical labor, Social Security may agree that you can't go back to that type of work.

It is important to note that the ability to return to your old job is not enough for you to be deemed disabled. But if you are not able to work a desk job (for example, if you have severe arthritis that limits the use of your fingers), you are more likely to be deemed disabled. Or, if you are at least 50 or 55, your ability to switch to a desk job may be ruled out by Social Security's "grid rules." For more information, see our articles on how the grid rules help older people get disability benefits.

If your hypoglycemia goes undetected and causes more significant impairments, such as severe and frequent seizures or permanently decreased concentration, you would be more likely to receive benefits due to the significant impact it would have on your ability to complete your work and to function properly in the workplace.

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