Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the gastrointestinal tract. It is a chronic disease that may affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, but mainly affects the small bowel and the beginning of the colon. Symptoms include constipation, persistent diarrhea, abdominal pains and rectal bleeding, among others. A doctor can perform testing to confirm a diagnosis. Diet or stress may make the disease worse.
Qualifying for Disability Assistance
Generally, you can get disability assistance if the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that you are disabled as defined under the law. The SSA considers you disabled if you have a condition that severely limits your ability to work and to carry on with activities of daily living.
You can also qualify for disability if you have a condition that the SSA provides in its Listing of Impairments, a manual listing various medical conditions and describing the method of evaluation for disability for each condition. Crohn’s disease is listed under section 5 of the manual as part of diseases affecting adult digestive systems; more specifically, it is included under subsection 5.6 as an inflammatory bowel disease.
The SSA determines if your condition renders you disabled by evaluating any results of medical procedures such as endoscopies, biopsies, and any other acceptable medical imaging that shows:
A. Blockage in the small intestines or colon, that may require surgery, hospitalization to relieve the blockage, and occurring twice within 60 days within the same 6 months;
B. Having the following symptoms present on at least two occasions within 60 days in the same 6 months period, regardless of your following medical treatment as directed by your doctor;
- Serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less;
- Clinically shown tender abdominal masses accompanied by cramping and pain not relieved by painkillers;
- Perineal disease with a draining boil or sore whose pain is not relieved by painkillers;
- Unintentional weight loss; or
- Needing additional nutrition daily using a gastronomy bag or a catheter.
If your condition doesn’t match any of the symptoms above, the SSA will still consider the effects of any other symptoms you may have to determine whether or not you have a condition that may qualify under another listed impairment.
What do you need to provide to prove your claim?
You need to provide medical reports of any treatments, tests and lab findings. These should include any imaging results (from sonograms, CAT scans, MRIs or X-rays) available documenting how severe your condition has been. You should work with your doctor to ensure you have all the medical information needed.
The SSA will consider how long you have had the symptoms of the Crohn’s disease despite treatment. This is because digestive diseases often can be treated effectively through medicine or surgery. To evaluate the treatment you have been receiving, the SSA may look at the treatment prescribed, the dosage and how often you take it, any side effects of the treatment, and how long the treatment is supposed to last.
Even if you present all the appropriate evidence, it is not necessarily an automatic approval for assistance. You should consider consulting an attorney, either for your initial application or for an appeal, to advise you on how to strengthen your case.