Is Diabetes a Disability in the UK? (Updated for 2023)
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
In the UK, over 4.3 million people are diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes can require multiple medications, doctor's appointments, insulin doses, and various other expenses, making it difficult to live with.
Because of this, some countries consider it a disability. But is diabetes a disability in the UK?
Let's find out.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Equality Act 2010, a person in the UK is considered disabled if they meet the following:
They have a physical or mental impairment.
has a detrimental impact on your capacity to carry out regular everyday tasks that is "substantial" and "long-term."
Examples of these conditions are cancer patients, mentally-ill patients, and amputees.
So, where does diabetes fit into this description? Let's read on.
The UK does consider type 1 diabetes and some cases of type 2 diabetes as disabilities.
However, not many people consider diabetes as a disability, much less knowing that they can claim disability benefits for it.
You might be thinking: I've seen people with diabetes who seemingly live decent lives without serious complications. How come it's considered as such?
To answer that, we need a quick look at diabetes types.
First of all, gestational diabetes, a condition where a pregnant woman exhibits diabetes symptoms during pregnancy, isn't considered a disability. In most cases, the same goes for prediabetic patients as well. So, we won't talk about those.
That leaves us with diabetes types 1 and 2.
The reason why type 1 often qualifies as a disability is because of insulin dependency. People with type 1 diabetes produce little to no insulin due to the autoimmune damage to their pancreas.
As such, they can only regulate their blood glucose with daily insulin doses. That could be financially draining, especially for those with limited income.
On the other hand, type 2 can sometimes be moderated using a special diet and a healthy lifestyle. Such people won't require extensive visits to healthcare professionals, have decent control over their blood sugar, and can perform daily tasks just like anyone else.
These cases of type 2 diabetes often aren't classified as disabled. Instead, those with severe type 2 diabetes who depend on insulin/other medications to live will be considered disabled and, thus, qualify for disability benefits.
You may qualify for Disability Living Allowance for children and Personal Independence Payment for adults
Suppose you have diabetes and are 16 or older (18 in Scotland), and it interferes with your ability to do daily activities and travel around. In that case, you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
This took the place of Adult Disability Living Allowance. In Scotland, PIP is starting to be replaced by Adult Disability Payment.
How do you know if your condition meets the requirements? It needs to check the following boxes:
To qualify for DLA (Child Disability Payment), Your claim form must be sent in or submitted three months after your child's diabetes diagnosis.
If you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can claim DLA for children under 16.
If you’re in Scotland, the benefit is called Child Disability Payment, and it can be claimed for children under 18.
Some cases of type 1 diabetes may not claim disability benefits because their condition isn't debilitating enough to harm their daily lives.
For example, if you're a working individual with a decent income, and your daily insulin doses won't put you in a critical financial position, you may not qualify.
On the other hand, some type 2 diabetes cases may fail to manage their blood glucose levels no matter how hard they try. They may qualify for benefits if they can prove that with official documentation.
Further, if your diagnosis includes at least one of the following conditions, you will almost always qualify for benefits:
Diabetic Ketoacidosis: A life-threatening complication of diabetes that causes severe exhaustion, extreme thirst, and chronic pain.
Peripheral Neuropathy: A condition where the terminal ends of nerves get damaged enough to cause extreme discomfort in the affected limb(s).
Diabetic Retinopathy: A condition with considerable damage to the eye's blood vessels. It's usually accompanied by impaired peripheral vision in one or both eyes.
If you meet the criteria stated above, you can claim disability benefits here in the UK.
But what exactly are those benefits?
Diabetic patients under 16 qualify for DLA, a tax-free monthly allowance given in various tiers according to the condition.
Such allowance may be claimed by the patients themselves or their parents/legal guardians.
Until 2013, the DLA applied to all eligible cases up to the age of 64. However, after 2013, the DLA became only applicable until age 16.
Today, diabetic patients between the ages of 17 and 64 would receive the PIP.
The PIP works in the same concept as the DLA, where the amount of money you'll receive will be assessed based on your condition, providing different tiers.
If caring for someone with diabetes who has a disability benefit, another benefit or Disability Living Allowance for children, you may be able to claim Carers’ Allowance.
You can qualify for this benefit (Carer's Allowance) if you devote at least 35 hours per week to providing care for a person who is ill or disabled. It is paid weekly at a rate of £76.75 (2023–2024).
Some parts of the UK, like Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, can receive free prescriptions if their condition requires medications or insulin to control. In most cases, they also receive free prescriptions even if they can control their condition through diet.
However, those who live in England won't receive free prescriptions if they don't require medications to handle the condition.
You need an exemption certificate to get those free prescriptions, which you can get by filling out the FP92A form. You can get such a form through your doctor or local post office.
Remember that this exemption certificate expires every five years, so you have to renew it before the period is over. Don’t worry, though, as you’ll often receive renewal reminders to ensure you don’t forget to do so.
A housing benefit is usually a sum of money to help with rent costs.
People with diabetes who prove their income is too low to manage their condition and housing expenses can claim housing benefits.
To qualify, you must provide information about your monthly income and savings.
If you want to know more about the benefits you get, check out the Disability Rights UK official website. You can even find a benefits calculator there to understand how much you're eligible to receive.
Simply put, it takes more work. It’s slow and detail-oriented to ensure the legitimacy of all applications. As a result, applications may go back and forth, and you may have to request reviews, provide further information, etc.
Because of the lengthy process, some people who qualify for those benefits don't even bother applying.
Type 1 and 2 diabetes can be considered a disability if they severely affect your ability to perform basic daily tasks.
Keep in mind that to qualify for such disability benefits, you'll need to present official documents to prove your health status.
Because science has yet to find a guaranteed cure for diabetes, it's currently considered a chronic disability. All available treatment options aim to control the condition rather than treat it.
The UK treats severe cases of diabetes as disabilities and allows you to claim some social security disability benefits. If you believe your diabetic condition qualifies as a disability, provide all the information that backs up your claim.
Your supplemental security income will lessen your financial burden from the constant insulin syringes, medications, special diets, and doctor appointments.
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