February 6, 2015

Receiving Social Security Disability For Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is becoming a much more commonly diagnosed problem for the clients I represent in my Indiana Social Security disability law practice.  When I see an influx of certain types of cases, I am never sure whether the increase is due to the disease occurring more often, or to doctors making more accurate diagnoses.  Whatever the reason, my clients with Crohn’s disease are unable to perform full time jobs.  If you suffer from Crohn’s disease or any other gastrointestinal disorder that prevents you from working, I believe it is important for you to investigate the possibility of qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

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While the symptoms associated with Crohn’s can vary among individuals, many of my clients complain of the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes gastrointestinal disorders in Section 5.00 of its Listing of Impairments.  Crohn’s disease is often evaluated under Subsection 5.06: Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Many of my clients, though, do not meet all of the specific requirements of this listing.  In those cases, we must show that the symptoms they experience reduce their Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) so much that they cannot perform all of the duties required in full-time work.  Typically, my clients are unable to stay on task because they require frequent bathroom breaks or have debilitating abdominal pain.  They have days in which they are unable to leave their home due to the severity of their symptoms.  I have attended many Social Security disability hearings at which the Vocational Expert (VE) has testified that employers, as a rule, will not tolerate excessive bathroom breaks or two or more absences per month.  If a claimant’s medical records support a finding that he or she would leave the work station that often or miss that much work, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presiding over the case will likely find the claimant disabled under Social Security’s rules.

As I have stated many times before, objective testing results and progress notes from a qualified medical professional can greatly enhance your chances of winning your disability claim.  In the case of Crohn’s disease, diagnosis and treatment by a physician who specializes in Gastroenterology may be the key to convincing the SSA that your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working.  I find that my when my clients are proactive in their treatment by seeing physicians when needed, taking prescribed medications, and adhering to their doctor’s recommendations, they also benefit by improving the strength of the evidence in support of their Social Security disability claim.

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