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Diverticulitis and Social Security Disability

Diverticulitis is a fairly common digestive disease which typically affects the large intestine and/or colon. The condition is caused by an infection to the diverticula (pouches which form on the outside of the colon). Diverticulitis generally develops from a less serious condition known as diverticulosis. The most common symptoms associated with diverticulitis are:

  • Lower abdominal pain (usually on the left side, though it can be on either side)
  • Chronic fever
  • Elevated white blood cell count (leukocytosis)

Other symptoms which may occur with diverticulitis include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Bloating

Diverticulitis, while unpleasant, is usually treatable, especially if it is caught early and given proper medical care. Left untended, however, it can become a serious medical condition.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability with Diverticulitis

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits with diverticulitis, your condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least one full year. Because diverticulitis is generally treatable, it can be one of the more difficult conditions with which claimants can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

To make things even more difficult, there are no specific requirements laid out in the Blue Book (the guide book the SSA uses to determine whether a condition qualifies you for disability benefits). Because of this, those who claim disability benefits due to diverticulitis must show that either:

  • Their symptoms are equivalent or greater than the symptoms needed to qualify for disability benefits for another condition which is listed, or
  • Their symptoms are severe enough that they cannot reasonably be expected to perform any kind of work for which they are qualified or could be reasonably trained.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the closest condition to diverticulitis which has a listing in the Blue Book. SSA officials will often compare your diverticulitis symptoms to the guidelines laid out for qualifying based on IBD in Section 5.06 of the Blue Book. The conditions the SSA looks for before they will qualify you for disability based on IBD include:

  • Documentation of medical imaging showing the condition (usually CT Scan)
  • Bowel instructions which require hospitalization at least twice, two months apart, in a six month period.
  • Chronic anemia (hemoglobin 10 g/dL or lower, tested twice with a two month interval.
  • Abdominal pain which cannot be controlled with narcotics. Tested on two separate occasions at least two months apart.
  • Draining fistula or abscess
  • Significant involuntary loss of weight
  • Inability to meet nutritional needs without a catheter

Because there is no specific listing for diverticulitis, the onus is on you to prove that your condition makes it impossible for you to continue working. Be aware that claims are usually denied, at least in the initial stages.

Your Diverticulitis Social Security Disability Case

Your chances of having your diverticulitis Social Security disability benefits approved improves dramatically when you are represented by a Social Security disability lawyer. Whether you are just starting to fill out the initial paperwork to file a disability claim or have already had your claim denied, it’s always a good idea to discuss the particulars of your claim with a Social Security disability lawyer.

Consult a Social Security disability lawyer in your area. Social Security lawyers work on a contingency basis. They only collect if you are approved for disability benefits. Even then, your lawyers’ share will not come out of your ongoing benefits. Rather, they receive a percentage of your back pay after you area approved for benefits. In most cases, the Social Security Administration sends your lawyer a check directly.

No matter what stage of the claims and appeals process you are in, a lawyer can help you make sense of your Social Security disability benefits.