When President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayer as a new U.S. Supreme Court justice, the White House was quick to point out that she was the first disabled justice. Sonia Sotomayer suffers from diabetes.

While many people suffer from this hidden disease, and the limitations on their lifestyles that go along with it, it seems that some people still question whether diabetes amounts to a disability.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) anyone who suffers from diabetes qualifies as disabled under the law. This is because diabetes substantially limits endocrine function.

In addition, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), diabetes may qualify as a disability that entitles the afflicted individual to Social Security Disability coverage and benefits.

This will be true if the individual suffers diabetes in a severe enough form to significantly limit their ability to perform basic work activities that are needed to perform most jobs.

Under the ADA the Supreme Court justice would be considered disabled. On the other hand, she is obviously able to perform work activities, and as a result her diabetes, though a disability, would not qualify her for SSD, if she were to apply.

However, this does not mean that California residents who suffer from diabetes would not qualify. In making such a determination, the SSA would consider the extent of the limitations that the disease places on an individual’s life, and whether this impact negatively affects that person’s ability to hold down a job. If so, then such an applicant who suffers from diabetes may qualify for SSD benefits.

Source: New York Magazine, “Is Sonia Sotomayor Disabled,?” Dan Amira, April 9, 2012