Do I qualify for long-term disability benefits if I have Diabetes?

Do I Qualify For Long-Term Disability Benefits If I Have Diabetes?

Some of the most common questions we get are:

  • Is diabetes a disability in Canada?
  • Can I claim for disability for diabetes?
  • Is type 2 diabetes a disability in Canada?

Diabetes (depending on the type) is either a metabolic or autoimmune disorder in which the body is not able to properly regulate the level of sugar (i.e. glucose) in the blood.  Diabetes can produce a range of mild symptoms, but they can result in serious complications too (such as heart disease, neuropathy, and kidney failure).

Important! You will not qualify for long-term disability benefits based solely on a diagnosis of diabetes.

You will have to establish, through medical evidence, that you are “disabled” or “totally disabled” as defined by your LTD policy. 

Accordingly, it is normally the serious complications from diabetes for which people receive long-term disability benefits.

LTD Claim For Diabetes Denied?

Has your diabetes disability claim been denied? Has the insurance company denied your appeal? Were you receiving benefits and the insurance company terminated those benefits?

The experienced team at Ertl Lawyers can help you.

We’ll work with you and your physician to help challenge the insurance company’s denial or discontinuance of your long-term disability benefits.

Where necessary, we will engage other trusted professionals to support your case including specialists, functional capacity evaluators, and vocational evaluators to help credibly explain why your diabetes disability symptoms are preventing you from doing your “own occupation” or “any occupation”.

Ertl Lawyers offers:

A free case assessment

Fair, flexible rates, including contingency fees (i.e. only pay if you win)

Service across all of Canada

If you are looking for a long term disability lawyer in Toronto that cares about your well-being, you’ve found us.

Our help can make all the difference.

Diabetes Disability: Overview

Diabetes is a disease in which your body can’t produce insulin or else can’t correctly use the insulin it produces. (Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas). Insulin’s role is to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. If blood sugar is not properly regulated, it can cause damage to organs, blood vessels, and nerves.

There is no single “cause” of diabetes. The cause depends on such things as the type of diabetes you have, your genes, ethnic background, family history, environmental factors, and your health.

Diabetes itself is not a high-mortality condition (1.3 million deaths globally), but it is a major risk factor for other causes of death and has a high attributable burden of disability.[1] 

Type 1 diabetes is classified as autoimmune disease, because the body’s system for fighting infection, your immune system, mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin, leaving you without insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, is far more common that Type 1 diabetes. It represents 85% to 90% of diabetes cases.[2] It is caused by several factors including obesity, ethnic background, a family history of type 2 diabetes and other environmental factors.


See: Government of Canada and Canadian Diabetes Association

Common Symptoms of Diabetes Disability:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections

Some of these symptoms can make it impossible to do your job.  Therefore, if you are asking yourself “can I claim disability for diabetes?” the answer is “yes” you should try.

Serious Complications of Diabetes Disability 

Diabetes, if not closely monitored and controlled, is a serious condition. When a person’s blood sugar becomes to high for an extended period of time it can cause serious damage to multiple areas of the body.

Heart: People with Type 2 diabetes are five (5) times more likely to develop some form of heart disease, including: atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, and stroke.

Nervous System: too much glucose in the bloodstream can cause neuropathy (damage to nerves resulting in numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet), and even loss of sensation, sores, and amputation.

Eyes: Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels within the eyes which can cause cataracts, glaucoma, retinopathy and in severe cases even blindness. 

Kidneys: too much glucose in the bloodstream makes it much harder on your kidneys to filter blood. Eventually, your kidneys will become overworked. In severe cases it can eventually cause kidney disease and failure.  

Treatment for Diabetes Disability

Diabetes is a serious condition that you cannot treat on your own. Your doctor will help you make a diabetes treatment plan that is right for you.  It will include medications, monitoring your blood glucose level, and lifestyle changes.

You may also need other health care professionals on your diabetes treatment team (.e.g. nutritionist, eye doctor, foot doctor, and a diabetes specialist called an endocrinologist).


See American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Disability and Workplace Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone in the area of employment based on their physical disability: Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

If you are suffering from diabetes, you might face discrimination in a variety of ways:

  • You are terminated from your job because you have a diabetes disability
  • You are denied accommodation because of your diabetes.
  • You are questioned about your time off for diabetes.
  • You are discipline for taking time off for diabetes. 
  • After returning from a disability leave, your employer places you in a lower, part-time position at a lower rate of pay
  • Someone makes unwelcome remarks or jokes about your disability.
  • Someone offends or humiliates you physically or verbally threatens or intimidates you because of your disability.
  • Retaliating against you for filing a human rights complaint. 

See our video: “Disability Discrimination”

Ertl Lawyers are experts in Employment and Disability Law. If you have been discriminated against as a result of your diabetes disability, we can help, including:

  • Having your employer comply with their duty to accommodate you.
  • Having your employer stop all forms of discriminatory conduct.
  • Representing you in wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, and human rights matters.
  • Ensuring that your employer complies with its statutory obligations, including its obligations under the Employment Standards Act.
  • Negotiation severance packages (including continuation of benefits).



What are some steps you should take before applying for long-term disability benefits for diabetes?

Review Your Policy Carefully

Your entitlement to benefits for diabetes disability depends on the specific wording of your disability policy. 

It is important that you understand how the insurance company defines things like “totally disabled,” “occupation,” and “self-reported conditions” – and whether any exclusions apply (particularly for pre-existing conditions).

Bottom line: You need to know what your policy says before you apply for benefits.

Gather Medical Evidence

To be entitled to disability benefits for diabetes, every insurer requires you to provide medical evidence documenting your diagnosis and that your illness or injury causes restrictions or lack of ability, such that you are prevented from performing the essential duties of your occupation. 

You will need to be treated by a medical professional who will diagnose your condition using established criteria.

It is also recommended that you provide to the insurer results of any Functional Capacity Evaluation that objectively documents your physical and (if applicable) mental limitations.

Gather Evidence of Workplace Limitations

Because your entitlement to long-term disability benefits for diabetes disability depends on the strength of your evidence, you should get a copy of your employee file from work. It may show that your diabetes has negatively impacted your work performance. Your work performance may have been affected by your diabetes or its complications. 

Create a List of the Physical and Mental Duties of Your Job

You should get a copy of your job description. Based on that job description, you should write out a detailed list of the physical (and mental) duties associated with your job description – and explain how your diabetes limits or prevents you from performing you own occupation.

Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan

Your entitlement to long-term disability benefits also requires you to be receiving regular, ongoing care and treatment for your diabetes. In other words, don’t skip appointments, and always follow your doctor’s treatment plans.

Keep a Diabetes Diary

On your end, it is important to keep a diabetes disability diary. A diabetes diary is a written record that helps you keep track of your symptoms and whether your treatment is helping. 

Other benefits / programs you might be entitled to for diabetes:

Other than short-term and long-term disability benefits through a group or individual insurance plan, people suffering from diabetes disability might be entitled to one or more of the following benefits or programs:

  • Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits;
  • Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP);
  • Disability Tax Credit (DTC);
  • Registered Disability Savings Plan
  • Disability Creditor Insurance (under your mortgage or credit cards);
  • Trillium (extended health benefits);
  • Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D); and
  • Disability Pension (employer).

Note: this list is not intended to be a complete of benefits or programs available to you.  It is recommended that you consult a tax professional and visit federal/provincial resources to learn what you might be entitled to.

Organizations / Associations / Colleges


Disclaimer: The content on this web site is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal, medical, or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this web site are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Ertl Lawyers (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Ertl Lawyers does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this web site.


  1. Physiopedia (website). “Diabetes”. Accessed September 21, 2020.

2. Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Fast facts about diabetes: Data compiled from the 2011 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): PHAC; 2011. Available from:

3. dQ&A (website). “How Diabetes Affects Employment and Daily Work”. Accessed September, 21, 2020.

4. N Ying, Jacobs P, Johnson J.A., Productivity Losses Associated With Diabetes in the U.S. Diabetes Care, 2001, Vol. 24, No. 2, Retrieved from






Long-Term Disability Benefits Denied?

Ertl Lawyers provides expert representation in long-term disability matters.
The vast majority of disability matters are resolved through negotiation and mediation – and that’s because insurance companies know that we are passionate about our clients’ rights.

How we can help you:

• free disability policy analysis
• free case assessment
• applying for disability benefits
• appealing a denial or termination of your benefits
• disputing a denial through a legal claim
• handling all communications with your employer
• protecting your employment
• prosecuting human rights claims

Fair, Flexible Rates – Including Contingency Fees
(Don’t Pay Unless You Win)

Our Help Can Make All The Difference.

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