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Colitis and Social Security Disability

Colitis - Condition and Symptoms

Colitis and Ulcerative colitis are classified under inflammatory bowel diseases. Colitis causes some or all of the colon to become inflamed, resulting in small sores or ulcers that appear on the surface of the intestine. Colitis tends to follow a pattern of exacerbations and remissions, or periods where the symptoms worsen followed by relative comfort. The symptoms generally include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, nausea, and fatigue. Additionally, this disorder may lead to more severe complications including profuse bleeding, a hole in the colon, severe dehydration, liver disease, and colon cancer. A diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is often one of exclusion, made only after other disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, and colon cancer are ruled out. Diagnostic testing will include blood tests, stool samples, colonoscopies, x-rays, and CT scans. The goal of treating colitis is to reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, for some individuals drugs and dietary changes are not enough to reduce the pain and uncomfortable symptoms of this disease. In these cases, your physician may recommend surgery to completely remove both your colon and rectum.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Colitis

The Social Security Administration has a publication that lists all of the eligibility criteria for conditions upon which Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance can be awarded. Section 5 of this “Blue Book” addresses gastrointestinal conditions including colitis. The biggest obstacle preventing claimants from obtaining Social Security Disability when suffering from colitis is the “on and off” nature of the disorder. To qualify as disabled you must be able to prove that you are unable to work for a full 12 month period. Many individuals with colitis are unable to work for months at a time as they suffer the damaging symptoms of the condition, but are then able to return to work during the rest of the year once symptoms temporarily subside. In order to prove total disability and qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a claimant must prove that they are fully incapacitated by the disease, and therefore unable to achieve any type of gainful employment activity.

One key factor when applying for SSDI/SSI is ensuring that you are seen and diagnosed by a medical specialist in addition to your primary care physician. Disability determination specialists place greater weight on a diagnosis by a specialist, therefore increasing you chances for an easier approval process. Because of the unique challenges involved in applying for disability on the basis of a colitis diagnosis, it is especially important to obtain expert advice and assistance during the disability application process. Fortunately, disability attorneys and advocates are trained to answer your questions and guide you through the application process.

Your Colitis Disability Claim

Living with colitis can be one of the most uncomfortable and painful experiences any person can be forced to endure. First, you must make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes, including the daily use of prescription medications. Even with strict adherence to the treatment schedules, colitis can still periodically attack the majority of patients, creating a constant risk of life-threatening complications.

The last thing you should have to worry about when suffering with this disorder being forced to work forty hours a week to keep a roof over your head. Fortunately, the federal government has plans in place to assist you. SSDI and SSI are two government programs specifically designed to help workers when serious medical conditions prevent them from maintaining employment. In most cases, the lengthy disability application and appeals process is requires a level of knowledge and time that most claimants simply do not have. In such situations, the counsel of a qualified disability lawyer or advocate may provide invaluable assistance with every step of this Social Security Disability process, all the way from the initial application to hearing level.