Bowel incontinence can occur for a number of reasons, and chronic or ongoing issues with bowel function can certainly lead to disability. Bowel incontinence alone is not usually the reason for a Social Security Disability (SSD) application though. This is because the condition is usually only a symptom of another, complex ailment, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, nerve damage or spinal arachnoiditis.
Applying for SSD with Bowel Incontinence
When you apply for SSD benefits, you must do so on the basis of the underlying medical condition that causes your bowel incontinence. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t have a unique listing for bowel incontinence among its potentially disabling medical conditions which appear in the Blue Book manual, which is the main reference for reviewing disability claims for eligibility.
While there is no dedicated listing for bowel incontinence, there are a number of listed conditions that can cause the condition as a symptom of a larger syndrome or disease. The conditions that may be applicable in your disability claim include the following, which are listed with their corresponding Blue Book designations:
- Section 1.01 – Category of Impairments, Musculoskeletal – Spinal Arachnoiditis (subsection K-2)
- Section 5.00 – Digestive System
- Section 5.06 – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Section 11.14 – Peripheral neuropathies
As there are many conditions associate with bowel incontinence, you may need your physician’s help to determine what section of the SSA’s Blue Book most closely fits your medical condition.
Your doctor can help ensure you have the appropriate medical documentation for proving your disability. Likewise, a Social Security advocate or attorney can also help you put together a strong application for SSD benefits.
No matter which condition is the basis for your SSD application, your claim must contain ample medical documentation. Included medical records should provide:
- A proven diagnosis obtained through the completion of documented diagnostic tests and physical examinations
- Details of your physical condition, including your daily impairments or limitations, as described in notes from doctor visits and other medical appointments
- Records of any and all attempted treatments and their results
- Statements from your doctor that detail your symptoms, their severity, how often they occur, and how long they last
- Proof that despite prescribed treatments, your condition has not sufficiently improved to allow you to maintain gainful employment
You should keep in mind that all the medical records contained in your application must pertain to not just your bowel incontinence, but the underlying medical condition that causes bowel incontinence symptoms. In other words, your substantiating documentation must prove overall disability and not just that you suffer from a single symptom of a medical condition.
If your medical records and other documentation don’t meet the listing for any particular medical condition in the SSA’s Blue Book, you may still qualify for SSD benefits. To do so, you must show your condition is so severe that it prevents you from maintaining gainful employment. To accomplish this, you must either:
- Prove through your included medical documentation that your condition is equal in severity to another listed condition which does appear in the SSA’s Blue Book
- Qualify for benefits under a “medical vocational allowance”, which shows you’re disabled by your condition despite the fact that it does not match or meet the criteria of a listed condition. Getting Help with Your Bowel Incontinence SSD Application
When submitting your application for disability benefits, you’ll need to work in close coordination with your doctor to document and accurately represent your medical condition, including the effects it has on your everyday life and ability to hold a job. Additionally, you’ll want to seek assistance from a Social Security advocate or attorney to help you complete all the necessary forms and collect all the appropriate documentation for proving your eligibility for SSD benefits.