What Makes Crohn’s Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the digestive system that creates ulcers anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth down to the anus, but most typically targets the small and large intestines.  In severe cases, these ulcers can scar, narrow, and obstruct the bowel. They also can erode through the intestinal wall and create fistulas (tunnels).  Fissures connect organs that shouldn’t be connected and often cause bacterial infection. Common Crohn’s symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain
  • persistent diarrhea
  • bloody stool
  • vomiting
  • diminished appetite
  • weight loss

These symptoms and others often result in missed workdays as flare-ups can leave a person bedridden for several days. Crohn’s also causes recurrent fevers. When Crohn’s disease attacks the colon, it can eventually lead to colon cancer.

There’s no known cause of Crohn’s, although heredity, allergies, stress, a poor diet, and an impaired immune system are often contributing factors to the condition. So far, there is no cure for Crohn’s, although numerous medicinal treatments are available to alleviate symptoms and reduce recurrences, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and immune suppressors. When successful, these drug regimens can result in remission.

Severe cases may call for surgery to repair damaged tissue. Some Crohn’s patients report favorable outcomes from practicing Tai Chi, meditation, visualization, and biofeedback techniques, as well as receiving hands-on therapies such as massage, acupressure, and acupuncture. For others, no amount of medical intervention can restore the level of health and well-being necessary to adequately perform on the job.

Who Gets Which Benefits?

Don’t delay in applying for disability benefits. Because processing applications for Social Security benefits takes three to five months, you should apply as soon as you’ve become disabled.

Register to receive a free confidential disability evaluation and find out if you qualify to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) by filling out and submitting an online form at SSA.gov.

If you prefer, you can conduct a disability claims interview over the phone by first contacting your local Social Security office to make an appointment. After you schedule the call, you’ll be sent a Disability Starter Kit to help you prepare for your hour-long interview. Should you need help with the filing process, you can request a Social Security Specialist to assist you.

How to Get Benefits

Document, document, document. It’s important to be able to prove to what extent your residual functional capacity (RFC)—the most you can do despite your limitations—inhibits your ability to work and carry out everyday activities.

Chronicle the severity of your condition in a journal devoted to your experiences with Crohn’s. Track your drug regimens and any improvements, setbacks, side effects, scans, tests, and operations and their corresponding medical records.

For a wealth of resources, including a database of advocates and attorneys searchable by city, glossary of terms, helpful tips, FAQs, and more pertinent details on the five stages of the Social Security application process, consult SSA.gov.