If You Suffer From Crohn’s Disease, You May Be Eligible for Social Security Benefits
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the intestines. Depending on the severity of this condition, it can cause ulcerations in the small intestine, breaks in the large intestine’s lining or even perforations of either of the intestines.
Another frustrating component of this disease is it can go into remission for long periods of time, only to suddenly flare up again for no apparent reason. Additionally, since Crohn’s shares many characteristics with ulcerative colitis, it often takes an extended period of time for it to be properly diagnosed. While surgery is an option for sufferers, it doesn’t guarantee the disease will be fully cured.
Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease
Diarrhea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite, ulcers and unwanted weight loss are some of the common physical effects of Crohn’s. Because of the duration, frequency and severity of many of the symptoms, it’s often impossible for individuals who suffer from this disease to remain productive employees.
Not only does Crohn’s disease take a physical toll on the people who are afflicted with it, but it can also cause significant mental fatigue. The pain, stress and uncertainty that go along with flare ups can make it difficult to focus on work-related tasks.
If you’re unable to maintain full-time employment because of symptoms caused by Crohn’s, you may benefit from applying for disability for Crohn’s disease. In the event that you’ve already applied but had your claim denied, it’s important to understand there are still options available to you.
Applying for Disability for Crohn’s Disease?
If you’re looking into disability benefits for Crohn’s disease, you will need to show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that:
- You are working at the SGA Substantial Gainful Activity level (which in 2017 means you are earning less than $1,170 monthly)
- Your medical condition is expected to last a year or more
- Your Crohn’s Disease is severe
If you can meet all three requirements with proven medical documentation, you may qualify for benefits.
The SSA Listing of Impairments classifies Crohn’s disease under the “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” (listing 5.06). When applying for Crohn’s disease disability benefits under this listing, you must have a Crohn’s disease diagnosis and documentation of bowel obstruction at least twice in six months, requiring surgery or hospitalization.
Alternatively, you might be able to prove the severity of your condition under listing 5.06 if you have experienced at least two of the following:
- Bloodwork evaluations separated by a least 60 days showing serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less
- Anemia with hemoglobin of no more than 10 g/dL as evidenced by evaluations at least 60 days apart
- At least two doctor’s visits for significant abdominal mass and pain which standard anti-inflammatory pain medication cannot control
- Loss of at least 10% of body weight
- Significant perineal disease with a draining fistula or abscess
- The need for a chest catheter or feeding tube to supply your daily nutrition
If you cannot meet these requirements, you may not be able to apply for benefits under listing 5.06, but you could still qualify for disability if you have medical documentation to prove your condition is serious and keeps you from daily work duties.
If you’ve applied for benefits and have been denied, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco to schedule a free consultation about your case.
Eligibility for Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease
To show you qualify for benefits due to Crohn’s disease, you must maintain careful records and ensure your medical records establish the severity of your condition. For example, if you have been losing weight, ensure your medical records reflect this. If your BMI is lower than 17.5 due to your weight loss and treatments have not worked, you may qualify for benefits under SSA listing 5.08. If you wish to apply for disability benefits under listing 5.06 or 5.08, you will need to show medical tests taken on two occasions at least 60 days apart.
If you do not qualify for disability benefits under an SSA listing but have a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and the condition impairs your ability to work, you may seek benefits by determining your capacity to work through a residual functional capacity (RFC). If you can establish with medical evidence that you cannot work due to your Crohn’s disease, you will qualify for benefits.
Knowing the definitions and SSA listings for Crohn’s disease can help you understand how you can apply for benefits. It’s also important to work with your doctor, attend regular appointments and ensure you take at least two tests separated by at least 60 days to show a severe or worsening condition
What Can You Do If Your Claim Is Denied?
Many Social Security disability applicants don’t realize that initial denials are fairly standard for a wide range of cases. Statistics show that almost 70% are denied after filing their initial application. From not fully understanding the process to making mistakes with a form, there is a long list of reasons why so many claims are denied. People often become discouraged by receiving a denial of Social Security Crohn’s disease disability benefits and fail to file an appeal within the 60 day appeal time period. This can be a detrimental mistake, resulting in a loss of benefits when a person goes to reapply for benefits later. It is usually best to continue to move your claim for Crohn’s disease disability benefits forward by filing an appeal, preserving your ability to claim benefits back to at least your original filing date.
A Disability Lawyer Can Put Your Case on the Right Track
Because she understands exactly how this process works, an experienced disability lawyer like Lisa M. Ritacco can ensure you don’t make any mistakes that harm your chances of having your claim approved. Whether you’ve already had a claim denied or you’re planning to file for disability benefits, contact Lisa M. Ritacco to schedule a free consultation about your case.
For more information on Crohn’s Disease visit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.