When an illness or injury causes a disability that prevents a person from working, obtaining Social Security disability benefits could be an option. These benefits are available to those who have worked and paid into the Social Security system long enough and recently enough, as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA provides a list of medical conditions they consider severe enough to prohibit a person from working, which includes a number of digestive diseases.
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is considered an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly found in the small bowel.
There is no specific cure for Crohn’s disease, which affects approximately 700,000 people in the U.S. Symptoms of the disease can range from very mild to extremely severe, and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Mouth sores
- Pain or drainage near the bottom
- Bloody stool
How Crohn’s Disease Can Limit Your Ability to Work
Crohn’s disease can be difficult to address because of the wide range of severity and due to the cyclical nature of the disease. Sufferers typically experience both periods of remission, in which they may feel fine, and flare-ups, during which the disease is active and significantly affects everyday life.
For some sufferers, the periods of remission are infrequent or non-existent. This can make it complex when addressing a patient’s ability to work. Some of the limitations for work can include:
- Inability to stand or sit in one position for too long
- Difficulty concentrating due to extreme fatigue or fever
- Inability to lift or grasp due to weight loss and pain
- Frequent bathroom breaks and access to a bathroom at all times
- Frequent rest
Eligibility for Social Security Disability When You Have Crohn’s Disease
The Social Security Administration does recognize that Crohn’s disease can be disabling, but sufferers have to show that they meet the criteria for inflammatory bowel disease. To qualify, a person must have suffered an obstruction in the small bowel significant enough to require surgery or hospitalization on at least two occasions at least 60 days apart within a six-month period. Alternatively, they can show evidence of at least two other qualifying conditions, which include:
- Low levels of serum albumin
- A tender, palpable abdominal mass
- Perineal disease with abscess or fistula
- Involuntary loss of at least 10 percent of body weight
- Need for supplemental nutrition via gastronomy or catheter
It is also possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits under the weight loss listing in the SSA book. For a disability related to weight loss, a sufferer would have to continue to lose weight despite treatment, have a BMI of less than 17.5, and have weight measured on at least two occasions at least 60 days apart within a six-month consecutive period.
Proving Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
The more medical evidence that is offered, the more likely it is that your claim will be approved. It’s important to paint as full a picture as possible by providing documentation showing:
- All medical test results
- Notes from doctor visits
- Operative and hospitalization notes
- Medication records
Be as clear and comprehensive as possible when you visit your doctor. Be sure to include any and all symptoms you may experience and let the physician decide what information is important to your care. It’s also important to visit a specialist who is experienced in treating sufferers of Crohn’s disease, such as a gastroenterologist.
Then, even if you have been awarded SSDI benefits, continue the medical care. Failure to seek treatment could hurt a person’s claim that they are unable to work because of their Crohn’s disease.
Our North Carolina Disability Attorneys May Be Able to Help
Social Security disability benefits can provide vital compensation for those who are already suffering from the pain and stress of illness. However, obtaining these benefits can be a lengthy process, with many pitfalls for those who have never had to navigate the system before.
The experienced attorneys at Brent Adams & Associates are here to help those with a disability ensure they can obtain the medical care and compensation they so badly need. Call our Raleigh office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to speak with a member of our team who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.