We asked the Diabetes Community “Do you consider diabetes to be a disability”. Here’s what they had to say.
Danielle Watson: Bowers No, I do not. In 34 years, the only times diabetes has kept me from doing things I want to do in life have been the times I did not take care of it.
JeVonda Flint: No, not at all. Definitely not overall. People may have complications from Type 1 that cause them to be disabled, but I don’t consider myself disabled just because I have it. I teach full time and work a part time job too and never miss work for diabetes
Jessica Marie Mittasch: Yes and no. Yes, because it does inhibit some of your daily life. Even a job asks if you have any disabilities and have listed diabetes as one. If people around us don’t give us leniency to take care of ourselves, we get sick or hospitalized etc.
Lauren DuBois: Even well-controlled diabetics can be faced with complications. There is a lot of shame and stigma in the diabetes community regarding this, and I can’t help myself from commenting! After 15 years, up to 80% of T1 diabetics will show some signs of diabetic retinopathy (the leading cause for blindness among working-age adults), and it’s not always split by those that did and didn’t care for themselves! Thanks for reading.
Jessica Marie Mittasch: I agree. I have retinopathy and I was well controlled for a while before it happened. I probably should have worded my comment better.
Amy Headrick: I think it depends on the person. I didn’t for the longest, but as I get older I see how it’s become one. I’ve lost multiple jobs due to complications with diabetes. I require extra time and unlimited breaks because of diabetes.
Laura Hellings-Kinkead: No I don’t and I cannot understand why it would be unless there are major complications. Yes, it is rough managing it while working but hundreds of thousands do it every single day.
Catherine Popper: yes! there are some days I can’t function after I’ve had a bad night. and if I’m having a blood sugar issue I have special immediate needs, which is pretty much the definition of a disability in the workplace.
Jamie Weaver Kerr: Absolutely not! I have had this disease for 25 years and it has never stopped me from doing anything that I have wanted to do in life
Scott Edward Breece: Yes and no. No, I don’t think it should be, but to be protected in the work place, unfortunately it should be treated as such.
Alicia Magliocco: No, I do not
Danielle Watson-Bowers: “An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment.
Heather Canzoneri: No. I’ve never been asked in a job interview, never mentioned it either. My life hasn’t really been inhibited because of it, it’s just a regular part of my daily routine and I do everything I want to do. I’ve also never had anyone look at me weird or be anything but nice and helpful in a low emergency. By no means do I have perfect control, but I try. I may just be lucky in my experiences.
Mike Bell: Heather, I love this response so much! I feel it subtly shows what the power of positive thinking can do! #inspiring
Heather Canzoneri: Thanks. I’m just don’t have time for being down. I can understand how people do get depressed about this though. It does get rough sometimes
Mike Bell: Heather Canzoneri, ill openly admit that I struggle with the darker side of this disease, but seeing people that share your outlook helps me to get through the tougher times.
Lauren Strickland: Legally yes, as it allows me to do things like bring sweets into an exam in case of a hypo when other people can’t bring in food, but on a day to day basis I really don’t at all 🙂
Michelle Carlin: Depends. mine was so bad I’m on disability since I’m 19 I’m 42 now
Katie Sullivan: Yes I’m a brittle diabetic and the last year I been hospitalize too many times to count on both my hands and maybe my feet also I can’t Jeep a job because I’m continuously sick my immune system is minimum
Kaleigh Wimberly: Yes!!! When I was 17 I spent a year straight in the children’s hospital back and forth between the regular floor and icu… In that time my mother lost her job, sold and pawned everything we owned just to be with me and make rent. A social worker come on to my case and put my name in for social security income. At that time, I was excepted and received money. One reason being because I was a type one diabetic!
Kaleigh Wimberly: I’m a brittle diabetic at that, so I do think it all depends on the person and their condition…
Amanda Gilbert: I mean, as long as I’m protected and can bring the last bit of my coffee or breakfast into my morning exam so I don’t risk going low during class I’m content.
Amanda Gilbert: ** just don’t disabled. I just require a little extra tlc
Allison Herron: Well legally we are. I definitely consider it one. It has impacted my entire life. I would be a different person without it. Even right now, I’m on fb because I had to stop playing tennis to treat a low. It’s constantly in the way of me doing things.
Lesley Davis: That’s the worst! Strange question – do you play your best right before you drop? When I hit 5 or 6 winning (or really amazing) shots in a row, that’s when I know to start drinking some juice!!!
Allison Herron: Yes! I was playing so well this afternoon, and then my coordination dropped to that of a drunk toddler.
Allister Jack: Depends in the UK I have had so many complications over the last few years cost me my career and my ability to work and drive caused depression and PTSD. I am a well-controlled Diabetic so in my case yes!
Brooke Fraser: Depends… I myself am more than just a diabetic, chronic conditions seem to grab hold of me but if ppl are doing what they have too and doing it decently then no they shouldn’t be labeled it.
Sonja Jo Fatherly: Boston ABSOLUTELY NOT! A disability limits one or more daily activities. I have been a T1 for 30+ years. Diabetes does not and will not limit me! #mermaidwithapump
Jamie Weaver Kerr: Amen sister!!
Sam Antha: Complications from the disease can be debilitating
Adele Arnett: Definitely not. I’ve had type one for 29 years and consider myself healthier than a lot of my counterparts. I haven’t taken a sick day in three years. I’m really careful and I do consider myself lucky. I only get one body and I’m treating it as nicely as I can
Christopher Fredregill: It’s a speed bump, but for most things not a complete impasse. There are many things I would voluntarily choose not to do nowadays, but they’re technically not impossible just because of diabetes – just extremely risky and tedious.
Sam Antha: I think this question depends on the individual and their circumstances. Mine is but I also have numerous health related problems from diabetes and autoimmune. I tried to maintain a normal life for most of my life but with numerous hospitalizations it has been debilitating to me. Everyone is different though
Jennifer Miller-Strandberg: A major annoyance at times, but not a disability. There has been very little I haven’t done through my lifetime. I’m hardly out of work for illness (though a slight bit late if I was low and was in my “stuck mode”). The only time there was a problem with a job was when I passed out 2x at a temp job. My endo made me take Avanti and my sugars wouldn’t go above 50. Should’ve sued him!
Heather Canzoneri: Stuck mode is the perfect term for that “I know I’m going to die but I don’t want to move” feeling
Kyle Van Breezy: I totally understand why I can’t be a cop, or fireman, or go into the military. I worked security and it’s no joke when my adrenaline starts going during a crazy situation and I start to feel low not too long after.
Nick Wright: Me too before I fight or compete I have to be higher BS so it accounts for the low I get from the adrenaline dump.
Heather Canzoneri I know a few police officers that are type 1. Military is no though.
Lesley Davis: I think we should all respect each other’s opinion on this – and mine is yes, strictly for work protection, to give us job safety. I have been diabetic almost 30 years, one very minor complication thus far, but I am extremely prone to lows…always have been. Although I can do anything I want to do and I’m not limited in general…if I have a seizure, I’m pretty much crippled physically and mentally the next day. And in order to protect myself as an employee, I need to select “disabled” so that I’m not dismissed because of not showing up to work.
I can count on three fingers how many times in my ten years of post-college work that has happened, but it has happened. I’m hoping everyone saying “NO!” and “Poor control is mainly due to people, not the disease” type phrases will remember that we are each here to support each other. Diabetes is not a blanket disease, it affects each of us differently, and we each have to do what’s best for us. I don’t judge anyone for saying no – I wish I felt that same security at my jobs to do that!
Duane McHugh: I haven’t been able to work in over 16 years, so………
Lyssa Bug Depends: on the definition of disability (or purpose rather) AND on the individual factors. Disabled as in covered by ADA? Absolutely! We are entitled to bring our own bottled water and snacks into establishments where it is typically not allowed.
Kim Wyatt: McAnnally Not in itself. My son is autistic but I did have hope that he could live on his own one day. Until type 1 came along. He doesn’t comprehend how important it is to take care of himself. Maybe when he is in his 30’s. Maybe.
Krystal Burrell: We are in the same situation. Add in a sensory disorder and complete hypoglycemic unawareness, it makes for some interesting days for sure!
Kim Wyatt McAnnally: Krystal Burrell, I don’t know how old your child is, but it did get better for us as my son got older. He is almost 20 now and he is just starting to follow the charts I’ve made and bolus when he eats. I’m hoping for a better a1c this month 🙂
Tammy L Sheffield: NEVER! Not for me, I miss less work than ‘healthy’ people 😉 once or twice a year if that 😉
Kelly Connelly Enriquez: I was one of the few at my workplace that didn’t miss a day all year.
Brittany Johnson: I don’t consider myself disabled. I have to deal with highs and lows but they literally only last for a little while and then I’m fine again so it doesn’t really “disable” me. My husband asked me once why I don’t get stuff like a handicap parking sticker since I’m disabled. I nearly slapped him I can walk and function perfectly fine. I do literally EVERYTHING that a normal 23-year-old does, only sometimes I need to press a button to take insulin or sit and have a snack before I can proceed. I’m not disabled….
Tarah Durham: I don’t consider it a disability. I would rather have this disease and manage it and be able to function every day, rather than have a disease that some people have that causes them to truly be disabled. I believe this disease is worthy of FMLA at work (it’s saved my job because of missing for DKA), but not disability. The complications that come from diabetes can cause true disability, though, which is understandable. Blindness, loss of ability to walk, etc.
There are some truly disabled people who would give anything to only have diabetes as their downfall. My dad can barely walk anymore, but works 40+ hours a week. My highs and lows that I can treat at work are nothing compared to what I’ve seen him go through. Deeds DaDalt in Canada, it is considered a disability due to the ongoing treatment we do on a daily basis – obviously some restrictions
Melissa Shankle: During a job evaluation I got a lower rating because of a no call no show due to an extreme low where I couldn’t process anything nor function. I felt discriminated against because of a disability that hadn’t affected my work. So I’d say yes. Needless to say I do not work there anymore because in a roundabout way I was told that’s why I got bumped down.
Christy Lake – McDonnell: Nope. I’ve had it 32 years and I can do anything anyone else can. I have never missed work, canceled an appointment or used it as an excuse. There are MUCH worse things in life.
Chloe Novak: I don’t consider it a disability exactly, but it does make things harder for me sometimes, particularly when I was still working in retail: they wouldn’t let me have snacks with me for lows or anything like that.
Lauren Strickland: Most countries legally class diabetes as a disability for precisely this reason though – to make it illegal for companies not to give you reasonable adjustments. I think being allowed to discreetly carry a pack of gummies or some glucotabs in your pocket at work surely would be classed as a reasonable adjustment! I would have brought that up with the HR department and fought it if I had a manager tell me that! 🙂
Chloe Novak: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could have taken that to HR, but the job caused me so much anxiety in general that I probably couldn’t have handled doing that.
Kelly Connelly Enriquez: I do not consider it a disability. I’ve had it for 47 yrs. and it has not stopped me from doing much of anything!!
Emily Murdock: Yes I do.
Kathy Holsey: Today, yes. Normally, no. Having extremely high numbers… tomorrow is another day.
Timothy Carr: Diabetes for me is a hindrance, it’s like having a monkey on your back all the time. I’ve been fighting diabetes for 11 years now. Two years ago I through what I call “Round Two with diabetes”. This was when I was correctly diagnosed as a T1.
Tammy L Sheffield: if it does not interfere with job it’s not a disability to me and everyone has their own opinions, I respect that as well
Kendra Gallagher Durdock: A difficulty not disability!
Kendra Gallagher Durdock: However- complications resulting from t1d may cause a disability
Lil England Hayes: I’m going to quote that difficulty line!
Pebbles Audrey Smith: Its a bump in the road of life for me. I have worse disabling diseases than this.
Conversation Between Members
- Ratt N Lisa Yes and no. my 7-year-old has type 1 and no matter how hard we try or what we do we cannot keep her levels good. She spends more time in the nurse’s office then in class and the school nurse and her teacher are amazing, we could not ask for better. She misses many days due to this disease. She also has some Gastro issues so I’m sure this plays a part as well. I think it depends on the individual and their situation or circumstance. I don’t want her labeled as disabled but if it protects her from discrimination and “protects” her so to speak then ok!
- Terri Hicks Whitacre Sure hope things get better for her so she can FEEL BETTER so she can learn and have fun in school. ❤
- Ratt N Lisa Terri Hicks Whitacre, thank you. She has the most upbeat attitude about it really. For the most part it does not slow her down, we try to let her be a “normal kid” as much as possible, her grades are great, she’s one of the top in her class, again thankfully she has a wonderful teacher and nurse. A cure for this awful disease would be GREAT!!!
- Terri Hicks Whitacre Thank heavens for a wonderful teacher and school nurse–and parents!!!
- Ratt N Lisa I think maybe they spoil her just a tad bit out there too she was their first type 1 in the school and now I believe there is 4 I think.
- Ratt N Lisa Terri Hicks Whitacre, yes!!!
Bill Patterson: No is absolutely is not a disability. The complications can be if you don’t control it.
Abigail Hansmeyer: Bills on fire. I realize this may have seemed condescending. I’m genuinely applauding you. I promise
Debbie Pugh: Yes because along with it I have kidney damage, thyroid problems, arthritis, heart issues & some depression.
Danielle Watson-Bowers: but is it the diabetes disabling you from having a normal life? Or is it all those conditions together?
Brenda Spivey Anderson: Not for me, but for some. It’s a crap shoot!
Ian Buckingham: It is what I class as an invisible disability, because there are visual signs to the general public.
Lauren Edmonds: No. This disease has never held me back from anything. I was diagnosed at the age of 4, so it’s the only life I’ve known. My mom put me in dance and kept me active while participating in things just like my “normal” friends. As I got older, I still was very active like anyone else. You have to keep a positive mind frame and not let it control you. I can understand others diagnosed at a later time in life, how it can completely turn your life upside down, but at the same time this disease is one you CAN live with. It’s manageable. I have my bad days, my highs, my lows at work, my irritability and days that I feel completely defeated, but I also am grateful that I was at least blessed with a disease that I can control. There’s always going to be times where you may feel anxious dealing with such a needy disease, but the good days outweigh the bad for me. Find support, and support others.
Timothy Carr: My wife and I have a friend that was born basically with no legs. He calls himself “half man”. Most of the time he gets around in a wheelchair because its much faster than walking on his hands. He doesn’t consider himself disable, but slightly challenged. Whenever he drives his van to the store, he doesn’t use the handicap parking places since they are already taking up by disabled people. He always parks further out in the parking lot and parks at an angle in order to lower the wheelchair ramp. During October, he like to have fun with his situation at Haunted Houses as a person being cut in half.
Mary Martin: Yes my blood sugars are bad and one moment I can be so low I cannot walk and then it skyrockets and still hard to get around–lows get so bad I more or less pass out or blackout–no longer drive
Lisa Nelson Lewless: I do not – it’s not holding me back from anything just part of who I am.
Terri Jacobsmeier: I do not see it as a disability but a challenge to make myself stay healthy. I do work harder at my job to prove to myself that I can work just as well as others.
Jennifer Jones: I have control of my illness, it does not control me. Nope, not a disability to me. T1d 44 years and still going strong, I’m 46 years young.
Angela Giaquinta: Well, I wouldn’t have t1d if it weren’t for a pituitary tumor & being an endocrines perfect storm. So mines a disability. & SSA considers it one, too, sooooooo
Austin Mccray: No I do not! Because it’s never stopped me from doing anything that I could do if I wasn’t a diabetic. And never will.
Jacqueline Holz: Sometimes I do because of the ongoing treatment
Kassi Mikaela Boyes: I do, but that doesn’t mean I am not capable of many things.
Summer Dione Hale: Yes…I’m on SS disability now due to it plus other health issues. I’ve been known as the “brittle” diabetic and it’s no fun. I go from low sugars, where I don’t know anything-to high sugars, where I can’t stay hydrated or out the bathroom.
Allen Burns: I’m the same way
Christopher Cody Carbon: Is Diabetes a Disability? Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may count as a disability at work, at school and for social security benefits.
Manolis Pipilikas: It’s more like a “baggage” you can’t let go.
Sheila Boyd George: I would say in general no it is not a disability, but some of the complications can cause you to become disabled.
Kylie Mcgrath Whamond: Yes of course it is. Regardless of how well you control it. I work in retail I am also a Manager of a store and at this time of year especially when rude arrogant people come into my store and abuse me for not carrying a certain item or having a certain color item or whatever they have the shits about (all out of MY control) the stresses play hell with my bgl’s. My staff have also been told of what signs to look for. for my Hypo’s and hyper’s because sometimes I am so busy I forget to take my breaks and eat. Sometimes I am dealing with stressful situations I will let my staff have their breaks even though I have been at work since 7.00 am. I am very strict with my diabetes yet have noticed huge amounts of brain fog lately as well as a decline in my eyesight. which also affects my work. As much as I don’t like the stigma attached with the word disability it most certainly is. And I have had it pretty easy compared to some of you.
Joshua Davis: Yeah I had that happen last night got into it with my ogm I am a cook work 10 hrs. straight and ask for a break and was told no because I had one ten hrs. ago I left got home sugar was 42 had to call and apologize
Gord Hill: In Canada, type 1 grants you a disability tax credit that you have to file for every 7 years unless you are on a pump and it is then perm. It is a significant credit, despite the fact that all the questions appear to work against it.
Dustin McGarry: I’m with Austin Mccray. I have never let it slow me down. Sometimes things can get a bit more annoying but as long as your prepared we can do anything.
Austin Mccray: Dustin McGarry, exactly!! I’ve had it for 13 years now and have done everything and more than most people. You control it. It doesn’t control you.
Bridget Linne: I don’t consider my disease a disability because for me it doesn’t restrict me from participating in a normal life, even though I think its protected as a disability for discrimination… I don’t think any diabetic deserves a ssi benefits unless it’s restricting them from living a normal life. 🙂
Clare Hutchins: Nope, had it 41 years and never considered it a disability. At times it drives me mad, especially if you go for days and control is excellent, then one day no matter what you do your levels go haywire. I have other auto immune conditions now too but I won’t ever give in. Still work full time and live my life to the full 🙂
Tara Schindler Arnold: Nope. I can work circles around lots of “normal” people.
Kathy Holsey: Ha-ha. I thought we were the normal ones!
Christine Pollendine: If you can keep well controlled, which is sometimes a problem I don’t think it is a disability. I have been a diabetic for 50 years and am lucky enough not to have had too many problems.
P Susan Willis Addington: Yes. But like other disabilities it does not mean you can’t do anything or be anything you set your mind to do or be.
Allen Burns: at first I didn’t, but after 26 years I do. I have lost so many jobs in my lifetime dew to being type 1. it also stopped me from being in the army, joining the police, and driving a big rig, just to name a few things …
Bobby Salm: It is a disability. It hasn’t prevented me from doing anything or achieving what I set out to do, but it is a disability. It’s to protect us. T1D is a chronic disease.
Ian Buckingham: No type of Diabetes is worse than others, it only becomes chronic, if you do not look after your Diabetes.
Bobby Salm: Omg!! It’s chronic if you’re a type 1. It’s progressive if you’re a type two. Type one diabetics didn’t get this disease from poor eating habits or lack of exercise. It’s an Auto immune disease. Chronic doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself. This is the lack of knowledge that drives me crazy. Type 1 and Type 2 are COMPLETELY different
Allen Burns: I have some uncles that are type 2, that refuse diet and exercise, I would do anything in the world to be able just watch what I eat. work out, walk a mile, etc.
Sarah Mabe: We tell our son become an advocate not a victim. You will do better when you control it not when it controls you. Mary Tyler Moore said something like that in her book.
Erin Marie: Type 1 and type 2 are chronic, they don’t go away. Yes, they are considered a disability to protect us from companies that don’t understand and try to fire or not hire us bc of it. (In the US)
Kathy Klusman Lentz: I am now a disabled diabetic, after having it for 32 years, I have developed complications combined with having 3 other autoimmune diseases that have left me unable to keep my balance, unable to feel the majority of my lows, major confusion when I was driving, which I stopped doing when I got confused between the accelerator and the break, and hallucinations while I drove as well as confusion about where I was in places I’d been a million times. I also now have cardiac problems, and I have had frequent laser surgeries and shots in my eyes, trying to save my vision.
So kids, sorry, you can feel invincible now and like you always will be (I did) but you’re not. Hopefully you will avoid the complications or have a cure, but be prepared because this disease can cause you to become not capable of what you want to do someday.
Kassi Mikaela Boyes: It’s been a bitter pill to swallow realizing that I have to be prepared to miss out on most of the things I set out to do. I don’t have the physical stamina for it and when I’ve pushed myself too hard I’ve put myself in the hospital- more than a few times.