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Diabetes and the Brain

Numerous studies have shown a link between diabetes and slowed mental function. Narrowed arteries caused by diabetes can lead to brain damage, and people with Type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.

Meeting Listing 12.04 for Depression Caused by Diabetes

Depression is one of the many possible effects of diabetes. If you are claiming benefits on the basis of depression, you will be evaluated under Listing 12.04 for affective disorders.

This listing requires that you have medically documented depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:

  • loss of interest in almost all activities;
  • appetite disturbance;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation;
  • decreased energy;
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness;
  • difficulty concentrating or thinking;
  • thoughts of suicide; or
  • hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking.

It must also have resulted in at least two of the following:

  • marked restriction of activities of daily living;
  • marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning;
  • marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
  • repeated episodes of decompensation.

Alternately, you may show a medically documented history of chronic depression lasting at least two years and causing more than a minimal limitation of your ability to do basic work activities. You must also have repeated episodes of decompensation or a history of one or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement.

Other Brain Conditions Caused by Diabetes

Depression is not the only mental condition that can qualify for benefits. Two other possible complications of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, may qualify under a program called “compassionate allowances.” This program allows people with certain diseases to get approved for benefits in days or weeks, rather than months or years.

Note that any physical or mental condition or combination of conditions could potentially qualify for benefits if it is severe enough to restrict you from working full-time at any regular job. See Getting Disability Benefits for Diabetes If You Don’t Meet a Listing.

Continue to Diabetes and the Heart.