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Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Social Security Disability

Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Condition and Symptoms

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a group of conditions which affect the colon and the small intestine.

The two most common of these diseases are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). The difference between these two diseases is where they occur in the intestinal tract and the type of inflammation present in each.

Crohn’s Disease can affect any portion of the GI tract, with most cases starting in the area where the small and large intestines meet. Crohn’s Disease can affect the entire wall of the bowel.

Ulcerative Colitis, on the other hand, attacks the colon and rectum, but impacts only the lining of the bowel. Other forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease include Lymphocytic Colitis, Ischemic Colitis, Collagenous Colitis and Diversion Colitis, among others.

Symptoms common to this group of diseases may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Weight loss

Additionally, these illnesses may be accompanied by other problems, such as arthritis, liver disease (primary sclerosing cholangitis), or certain types of skin infections. Also, each of these diseases may have varying degrees of other symptoms such as fever, depending on which disease is present and how advanced it is.

Diagnosis for most of the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases is made via a colonoscopy and confirmed with a biopsy of some of the tissues on the lesions of the bowel.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be treated in several ways, depending on the type and severity. A number of medications have been used to treat and/or prevent the inflammation that persists in the intestinal tract. Some immunosuppressant medications have been effective at treating symptoms, and steroids have been used to control flare-ups. More severe cases may be treated with surgery, including temporary or permanent colostomy, ileostomy, or bowel resection.

Filing for Social Security Disability with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) impairment listing manual (more commonly called the “Blue Book”) as a condition that can qualify the patient to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

The Blue Book does not distinguish between any of the different illnesses that fall under the IBD category, but there are specific diagnostic criteria that must be met and documented in order to qualify for disability benefits. These are the following:

  1. Obstruction of the small intestine or colon that is diagnosed via appropriate imaging techniques or surgery which requires hospitalization on at least 2 occasions at least 60 days apart within a 6 month period, or
  2. At least 2 of the following symptoms which occur despite patient compliance with prescribed treatment, happening within the same 6 month period
    1. Anemia at a pre-determined level of severity, or
    2. Low level of Serum Albumen (A protein in the blood), or
    3. A mass in the abdomen that causes pain or cramping which is not completely controlled through prescribed medications, present at least two times, at least 60 days apart, or
    4. Disease of the pelvic floor with a draining abscess or fistula, with pain that does not respond to prescribed narcotic pain medications, at least two occasions at least 60 days apart, or
    5. Unintended weight loss of at least 10% from baseline, present on two occasions at least 60 days apart, or
    6. Need for a feeding tube to maintain proper nutrition.

Your Inflammatory Bowel Disease Disability Case

If you are unable to work as a result of the complications from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, there is a good chance that you are entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits. The extensive diagnostic criteria that must be met illustrate the fact that adequately documenting the severity of the disease can be a very involved process. As a result, it would be in your best interest to enlist the services of a Social Security Disability attorney.

Approximately 70% of all claimants are denied Social Security when their applications are submitted for the first time. If you choose to continue your case, you must then file an appeal.

Because of the sheer number of cases handled by the SSA, it can sometimes take years to resolve an outstanding disability claim. To make matters worse, many of the applicants in these cases qualify, but their applications are denied based on errors or omissions in their application paperwork.

Working collaboratively with you and your healthcare team, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney will be able to collect all of the necessary documents to help prove your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

A Social Security lawyer will be very familiar with the entire disability application process, and know how to avoid the mistakes that can result in frustrating delays. To speak with a qualified disability attorney or to get more information about applying for disability benefits with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, request a free disability evaluation today.