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Short Bowel Syndrome and Social Security Disability

Short Bowel Syndrome- Symptoms and Condition

The small intestine occupies the area between the stomach and the large intestine in the human digestive tract (as well as that of most mammals). Averaging about 19 feet long in most adults, the small intestine is where most of the body’s chemical digestion processes take place. Also, most of the nutrients contained in our food are absorbed through the walls of the small intestine.

There are a number of diseases that can occur in the small intestine; among them are Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory disease of the digestive system), Volvulus (a twisting of the intestine resulting in loss of circulation and eventually tissue death), tumors (malignant or benign), and necrotizing enterocolitis (tissue death of the intestine seen primarily in premature infants). Occasionally, the severity of these illnesses makes it necessary to remove a portion of the small intestine. As a result, the body becomes malnourished because of a loss of the mechanism by which nutrients are absorbed. The resulting condition is known as Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS). Sometimes (although rather rarely) SBS is the result of a congenital birth defect. It is usually only present if two thirds or more of the intestine is missing.

Some of the symptoms of SBS may include:

  • Diarrhea and/or steatorrhea (oily, sticky stools which are unusually foul-smelling due to the malabsorption of fats)
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain

Additionally, patients with SBS may suffer from the complications of malnutrition, such as pain in the bones, anemia, easy bruising, scaly skin, reduced blood clotting, and muscle spasms.

Diagnosis of SBS is usually determined through a review of the patient’s medical history, which should reveal any surgeries which would have resulted in the removal of portions of the intestine. In cases of a congenital origin, a blood test would reveal anemia or other absorption-related disorders. A fecal sample can reveal fat in the stool.

SBS cannot be cured, but its symptoms may be managed. Anti-diarrheal medications may provide some relief. There are medications to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. In severe cases of malnutrition, an I.V. feeding tube or a gastrostomy tube may be necessary to return the body’s nutrient levels to normal ranges. Short Bowel Syndrome is one of the many different type of bowel syndromes that qualify for disability.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Short Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis

Short Bowel Syndrome has been determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to be a condition which can qualify a person to receive Social Security Disability benefits. In their impairment listing manual (commonly called the “Blue Book”), the SSA spells out the criteria which must be met in order to qualify for benefits. These criteria include the surgical removal of at least half of the length of the small intestine, necessitating daily nutritional supplementation through a central venous catheter. In simpler terms, your small intestine has to have been shortened enough that your body is unable to maintain proper nutrition through normal eating, to the point it has become necessary to feed you intravenously. The Blue Book does make note of the fact that some patients eventually regain some absorptive capacity in the intestine and may at some point be able to be weaned away from the I.V. line.

Your Short Bowel Syndrome Disability Case

If you have been impacted by Short Bowel Syndrome to the point you are unable to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Because solid, incontrovertible proof of the extent of your illness is required for approval, it is strongly suggested that you seek the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney.

While filling out some application paperwork may seem to be a simple process, the reality is that most (well over two thirds) of the applications filed for disability benefits are denied. For those who choose to pursue their cases further, their only option is to file an appeal. Once the appeal process starts, it may be months or even years before the case gets resolved. Making matters worse is the fact that some of the cases are denied not because the claimant wasn’t entitled to receive benefits, but because their application paperwork was incomplete or inaccurate.

You, on the other hand, have the advantage of knowing that a seemingly insignificant mistake could result in a long and frustrating delay. The best way to keep the same thing from happening to you is to have your case reviewed by a Social Security Disability attorney.

An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer has been through the application and approval process countless times and is familiar with all of the documentation necessary to prove that you have a disabling condition. Working closely with your physician, your attorney can complete the application paperwork in order to get your disability claim processed in a timely manner, so you don’t have to keep waiting for benefits to arrive while the bills continue to pile up. Having your claim handled by a professional is the easiest way to have your disability case run as smoothly as possible.