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Can I get Social Security Disability benefits for Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles which propel food through an individual’s digestive tract do not function properly, interfering with digestion.

Specifically, the vagus nerve, which is responsible for moving food through the stomach and digestive tract, is damaged. Gastroparesis causes a variety of symptoms including heartburn, vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating, uneven blood sugar levels, weight loss, lack of appetite, spasms in the stomach, and malnutrition.

Gastroparesis can cause a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from the mild to severe. Frequency of symptoms can also vary, and doctors may have a difficult time diagnosing this condition.

Controlling Gastroparesis

There are a variety of treatment options such as avoiding certain high fiber, fatty or carbonated foods and beverages. Dieticians can also help individuals outline an eating plan which can include eating smaller meals, drinking more water and moderate exercise.

Winning SSA Disability Benefits for Gastroparesis

Claimants may win Social Security Disability benefits either by “meeting a listing,” which means they have a condition which is listed on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (also called Blue Book) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Gastroparesis is not specifically listed in the SSA Blue Book, although because this condition can cause an imbalance in blood sugar levels certain claimants may qualify under Section 9.00 Endocrine Disorders if they can prove that have chronic hyperglycemia.

• Section 9.00 Endocrine Disorders - Chronic hyperglycemia

Chronic hyperglycemia, which is longstanding abnormally high levels of blood glucose, leads to long-term diabetic complications by disrupting nerve and blood vessel functioning. This disruption can have many different effects in other body systems. For example, we evaluate diabetic peripheral neurovascular disease that leads to gangrene and subsequent amputation of an extremity under 1.00; diabetic retinopathy under 2.00; coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease under 4.00; diabetic gastroparesis that results in abnormal gastrointestinal motility under 5.00; diabetic nephropathy under 6.00; poorly healing bacterial and fungal skin infections under 8.00; diabetic

Additionally, individuals with severe weight loss may also qualify under Section 5.08 Weight Loss to due to any digestive disorder.

• Section 5.08 Weight loss due to any digestive disorder

To win under this listing the claimant will have to prove that despite continuing treatment as prescribed, they have a BMI of less than 17.50 (calculated on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart) within a consecutive 6-month period.

Cases have been won by arguing that a claimant’s disability equaled these listing because the either the blood sugar levels resulted in an abnormal gastrointestinal motility or the nutritional malabsorption from gastroparesis resulted in severe symptoms which caused extreme weight loss.

Winning Disability for Gastroparesis through a Medical Vocational Allowance

If a claimant cannot prove that their condition meets or exceeds one of the listing above they will have to win benefits through a medical vocational allowance. Using the medical vocational allowance process, the SSA evaluates the claimant’s age, work skills, job history, education and residual capacity to work to determine if they can perform substantial gainful activity or if the claimant’s condition is so severe that they are not able to work for at least 12 continuous months.