This post discusses Social Security Disability and Digestive Disorders. If you have been assessed with a digestive disorder that is preventing you from working, read on for how SSA will evaluate your claim for disability.

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Digestive disorders encompass a wide array of conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. Digestive disorders can vary in severity from the minor annoyance of mild heartburn to potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as a perforated ulcer. Via Johns Hopkins.

Some of the most common digestive disorders are: Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing),  Achalasia (food does not move through the esophagus due to damaged nerves), Esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus), GERD (stomach acid enters the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (increases risk of esophageal cancer), Gastritis and gastric ulcers (inflammation of stomach lining), Ulcers (infection of the duodenum), Chronic Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease of the small intestine), Ulcerative Colitis (inflammatory disease of the large intestine), Diverticulitis (weak spots in the large intestine wall) and Hemorrhoids (clusters of swollen veins in the anus). Also via Johns Hopkins.

In my clients with digestive disease, symptoms can range from severe pain after eating with fecal incontinence to the need for a blood transfusion or parenteral nutrition. Unfortunately, digestive disorders can co-occur and medications can cause side effects.

Many digestive system disorders are considered auto immune diseases (or imitate an auto immune disease). Doctors can prescribe steroids (like Prednisone) or immunosuppressants (Methotrexate) that come with their own set of disabling side affects.

Common Digestive Disorders

The most common disabling digestive disorders that I see in my practice are Chronic Pancreatitis, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Achalasia and Short Bowel Syndrome:

  • Chronic PancreatitisChronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve—it gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage. – See more here . Pancreatitis is painful to say the least. Pancreatitis is often associated with diabetes, gastroparesis or diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Crohn’s Disease – Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. 
  • Ulcerative Colitis – is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. UC affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Via The Mayo Clinic.
  • Short Bowel Syndrome – SBS can occur when portions of the small intestine have to be removed. Removal can be caused by Crohn’s, stomach cancer/ gastrointestinal tract cancer or trauma, etc. The small intestine is roughly 20 feet long. During food’s trip through the small intestine, it is absorbed and converted to nutrition. Thus, when you lose a portion of the small intestine, your capacity to extract nutrition from food is reduced.
  • Achalasia – esophageal nerves come paralyzed and food can no longer be squeezed into the stomach for digestion. The food can ferment and the resulting bitter taste can be confused with GERD. There is no cure for Achalasia and without the ability to digest food the body can not attain the nutrition it needs. Via the Mayo Clinic.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Digestive Disorders

Is achalasia a disability? Pancreatitis? The most important question with Social Security Disability (as always) is not what you have been diagnosed with but how severe your condition is. Many of the above digestive disorders can be controlled with diet change, medication or surgery, but some can not.

If you have followed your doctor’s advice regarding your impairment, but still have failed to improve, filing for Social Security Disability benefits may be the right choice for you.

The Social Security Administration can find you eligible for disability based on your disorder in more than one way. One way is by meeting one of the listings under 5.00 Digestive – Adult. The preamble to this listing notes that treatment, response to treatment, adverse effects of treatment and duration of treatment are all considerations. Chronic malnutrition, weight loss and blood transfusions are also considered. Listings, in most cases, are difficult to meet.

Even if you do not meet the above listings, you may be found disabled based on your digestive disorder simply because your symptoms prevent you from working. Recurrent trips to the restroom, abdominal pain, migraines, malnutrition, and chronic fatigue can prevent your from performing your job duties.

If you have been assessed with a digestive system disorder and are unable to work because of your symptoms, file your claim for Social Security Disability as soon as possible. Call The Bishop Law Firm today for a free case evaluation!

Also read: NC Social Security Disability Lawyer