Diabetes and diabetic complications are one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. More than 100 million Americans, almost one-third of the population, have diabetes or prediabetes. Nearly 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year, including young children.
The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes costs the United States more than $90 billion in lost productivity each year. This doesn’t include the $237 billion in direct medical costs incurred from diabetes. This means that Americans are losing $90 billion worth of income each year as a result of disabling diabetes and diabetic complications. Patients with diabetes incur more than twice the medical expenses of the average person, and this is on top of potential lost income and fringe benefits.
Treating doctors usually try to manage diabetes with medication, diet, and exercise. Unfortunately, unexpected disabling medical complications can arise even in well-managed cases and diabetes takes its toll with time.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can qualify disability policyholders for individual or group long-term disability benefits if they cannot perform the important duties of their occupation. Claiming and retaining individual or group long-term disability benefits, however, is more complicated than you may think. Some individual and group long-term disability insurers will wrongfully delay, deny, or terminate your benefits by claiming your diabetes was preexisting or that proper medication management would eliminate restrictions.
At DarrasLaw, America’s top-rated long-term disability insurance attorneys and award-winning ERISA lawyers know your policy’s fine-print traps. Our founding partner, Frank N. Darras, and his firms have recovered almost $1 billion in insurance benefits. Schedule your completely free disability policy analysis and free claim consultation today by calling (800) 458-4577 or contacting us online.
Understanding the Difference Between Type 1, Type 2, and Prediabetes
In the broadest sense, diabetes is a blood sugar disorder that affects the insulin in your body. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that regulates how your body uses sugar (glucose). Your pancreas releases insulin while you eat, and the insulin processes the sugar from the food and transfers it to the cells in your fat, liver, and muscles. The body then uses the sugar or stores it for energy. You cannot function without this energy, which is why we need to eat. Diabetes, however, affects the way your body would normally produce and use insulin to convert sugar to energy.
Gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, means your placenta has made your cells insulin-resistant. Many expecting mothers with gestational diabetes will produce the excess insulin necessary to regulate their blood sugar, but may have to adhere to a special diet. Gestational diabetes normally subsides after delivery, but you may suffer a temporary disability as a result of this pregnancy complication.
Prediabetes and Hyperglycemia
Prediabetes is commonly called high blood sugar or borderline diabetes. It means you have more sugar in your blood than you should, but it doesn’t rise to the level of diabetes. High blood sugar is a sign your body is not producing or using insulin as it should, and it may turn into diabetes.
People with high blood sugar have a higher risk of heart disease and strokes and must watch what they eat. Eating low-carb, low-sugar foods can help reduce the sugar your body needs to process, reducing your overall blood sugar levels. Managing your blood sugar at this stage may prevent you from developing diabetes.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Frequent urination
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and nausea
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth,
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fruity breath
Your treating doctor should always check your blood sugar during routine check-ups.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes was once called juvenile diabetes, but it actually affects more adults than children. You can develop type 1 diabetes at any age, and it has little to do with your overall diet and health. Instead, you have type 1 diabetes if your pancreas does not produce insulin at all or produces so little insulin it can’t process normal glucose.
People with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections to provide the insulin their bodies don’t produce. Your body can’t absorb energy from food if you don’t have insulin, which can lead to extreme fatigue and diabetic coma. Some patients need insulin pumps to constantly deliver necessary insulin to their bodies, while others can measure the insulin they need and inject it before each meal.
Only about 5 percent of Americans living with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes is often a preexisting condition for which you may not qualify for individual or group long-term disability benefits, it can still lead to serious qualifying complications, injuries, and illnesses.
Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Comas
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. This condition develops when your body produces insulin but doesn’t use it properly. This is often called insulin resistance, and the problem leads to dangerously high blood sugar known as hyperglycemia.
Type 2 diabetes can get worse with time. Your body will produce excess insulin when you first develop insulin resistance, but it can’t sustain this production. Eventually, your body can’t keep up with your blood glucose levels, which leads to high blood sugar.
Hyperglycemia is dangerous because, if left untreated, it leads to a life-threatening disease called ketoacidosis (DKA), which may lead to a diabetic coma. It occurs because sugar isn’t getting into your cells to produce energy. Your body needs energy to function, so it begins to break down the fat in your body to make up for this energy deficiency. Though burning fat can prove healthy in small quantities, when your body breaks down fat too quickly it produces biological waste called ketones. These ketones are poisonous when they build up.
DKA occurs in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the normal warning signs include nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Diabetics who pass out from DKA will need immediate emergency treatment. DKA, high blood sugar, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can all lead to diabetic comas.
Hypoglycemia occurs when your body has absorbed too much glucose. The symptoms include:
- Heart palpitations
Patients who enter a diabetic coma need immediate treatment. You will experience brain damage if you remain in a diabetic coma for more than a few hours. Diabetic comas that last longer may result in death.
Disabling Conditions Resulting From Diabetes
Diabetes can disable people due to constant hyper and hypoglycemia. However, most diabetics maintain a normal work/life balance and don’t usually qualify for individual or group long-term disability benefits.
Diabetes, however, takes its toll on your body. It can lead to many disabling conditions including the following:
- Neuropathy (nerve damage): Your blood nourishes your whole body, including your nerves. Tiny blood vessels called capillaries feed your nerves, delivering nutrients so they can receive brain signals. High blood sugar damages the walls of these tiny blood vessels, especially in the arms and legs. You’ll experience tingling, burning, pain, and numbness that spread up your limbs. Nerve damage is permanent and requires immediate treatment. Without treatment you’ll lose the use of your limbs, and neuropathy can also lead to erectile dysfunction and damage your digestive system. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation are signs you’re suffering from diabetic-related neuropathy.
- Heart disease: Years of high blood sugar leads to damaged nerves and blood vessels in and around the heart. Coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes commonly occur in diabetics. Patients with diabetes are more likely to suffer from an early cardiac episode and may need to claim individual or group long-term disability benefits for a cardiac event.
- Kidney disease: Your kidneys filter the waste from your body and are particularly damaged by excess ketones in your bloodstream. They are also fed by the small blood vessels susceptible to damage from high glucose levels. You may need a kidney transplant or frequent dialysis if your kidneys fail. This condition may occur in diabetics who’ve suffered from diabetes for many years.
- Vision and hearing loss: Diabetes is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness in the United States. The high blood sugar associated with diabetes often damages your retinas. Diabetes can also lead to glaucoma and cataracts. Hearing problems are common because of small blood vessel damage. Any part of your body that relies on small blood vessels and capillaries to deliver nutrients may sustain diabetes-related damage.
- Depression: This fatigued, low-energy, and emotionally difficult state can result from many chronic disorders. Patients suffering from depression resulting from their diabetes may qualify for mental health benefits through their individual or group long-term disability insurer, but policies that say depression that causes or contributes to your disability is typically limited to 12, 18, or 24 months.
- Skin conditions: Common diabetic complications include poor circulation, dry skin, and itching. Skin tags may also develop. Skin conditions may not qualify you for individual or group long-term disability benefits alone, but they provide additional, compelling medical evidence and proof of your struggle with diabetes.
- Toe/foot sores and amputations: Severe cases of unmanaged diabetes may result in foot and toe ulcers produced by vascular disease, which damaged blood vessels cause. Damaged blood vessels result in longer healing time for cuts and sores, especially in the areas farthest from the heart, like your feet. A simple cut on the foot may quickly develop into a serious infection called gangrene. Amputations are often the only means of treating gangrene. Vascular disease and infections are more common in people who have suffered from disabilities for many years.
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease: Brain damage is caused by restricted blood flow to your brain. Vascular damage caused by diabetes can reduce normal blood flow from the heart to the brain. The Mayo Clinic reports that 80 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s have type 2 diabetes. Even younger patients have an extremely strong correlation between diabetes and dementia.
Diabetics must constantly monitor themselves for the above conditions, which commonly occur due to blood vessel damage. In addition, they must constantly monitor their blood sugar, insulin production, ketone levels, diet, and physical activity. The easiest way to prevent diabetic-related diseases is to keep your blood sugar within normal range and seek treatment as necessary.
Claiming Individual or Group Long-Term Disability Benefits for Diabetes
Individual and group long-term disability insurers frequently delay, deny, and terminate benefits for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, and conditions related to it. Most group disability insurance policies are employer-sponsored. This means you can’t take your group disability policy with you if you change jobs after a diabetes diagnosis. Individual and group long-term disability insurance companies may also wrongfully deny cases where decreased blood flows to your limbs and certain heart conditions, arguing these conditions are capable of proper medical management, so no disability exists.
At DarrasLaw we know that almost all medical conditions arise from something. Cervical cancer can arise from a virus or genetic trigger. Infections can come from recent surgeries, and back pain can result from shifting weight off a broken foot. Your individual or group long-term disability insurer will dig through your medical records in an attempt to prove that your problems stem from a pre-existing condition, but where does it end?
For example, if you suffer from a heart attack, your individual or group long-term disability insurer may wrongfully deny you disability benefits because it “may” have arisen from your preexisting diabetes. You may have a family history of high cholesterol, but your individual or group long-term disability insurer may link any cardiovascular abnormalities to your diabetes and wrongfully deny your benefits. You need a top-rated long-term disability attorney or award-winning ERISA lawyer from DarrasLaw on your side if you were wrongfully denied individual or group disability benefits for your diabetic conditions.
Call an Award-Winning Long-Term Disability Attorney or Top-Rated ERISA Lawyer at DarrasLaw
Take the time you need to properly recover after suffering a complication from your diabetes by claiming your rightful individual or group long-term disability benefits. Our initial disability policy analysis and claim consultation are completely free. From $100 to $50,000,000, no case is too small or too large for us at DarrasLaw. We have more than 100 years of combined litigation and claim experience fighting for wrongfully denied insurance benefits. Claimants facing a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of individual or group long-term disability benefits for diabetes should email DarrasLaw or call us at (800) 458-4577 today to set up a free consultation and free case review.