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Pancreatitis and Social Security Disability Benefits

The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. If this gland becomes inflamed it can cause pancreatitis.

What does the pancreas do? It secretes enzymes into the duodenum, through the pancreatic duct, which combine with bile to help digest food. Hormones, including glucagon and insulin, are also released by the pancreas into the bloodstream. Pancreatic hormones can also help the body control the glucose it absorbs from food.

Pancreatitis may cause the digestive enzymes which are used to digest food to become active before they reach the small intestines. If this occurs, the enzymes can damage the tissues that create them.

Symptoms of pancreatitis can include fever, bleeding, infection, tissue damage, and vomiting. Individuals may have either an acute condition, which appears and leaves suddenly, or a chronic condition, which slowly destroys the pancreas. Either condition can be extremely serious and sometimes fatal.

Treatment for pancreatitis should be immediate, especially if there is bleeding, which can lead to damage to an individual’s lungs, heart and kidneys.

Diagnosing Pancreatits

A physical exam or blood test can generally identify pancreatitis. Doctors will also generally order a CT or CAT scan if the patient has severe abdominal pain. Blood tests can reveal high levels of lipase or amylase, and CT Scans can reveal gallstones or inflammation.

Winning Social Security Disability Benefits for Pancreatits

Claimants can win disability benefits either by meeting a listing on the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Blue Book

Although pancreatitis can be a very serious or painful condition, the SSA does not currently have listing in the SSA Blue Book to evaluate this condition. This does not mean, however, that a claimant could not make an argument that a severe case of chronic pancreatitis could not be as severe as a listed condition, especially if it has led to damage of organs (heart, lungs or kidneys).

If you believe your condition is as serious as a condition listed in the Blue Book, contact a disability lawyer and work with them to develop your disability claim.

Getting disability for Pancreatitis through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Most claimants who win Social Security Disability benefits do so through a medical vocational allowance. Using this disability determination method the Social Security Administration focuses less on the claimant’s diagnosis and more on their resulting limitations.

For instance, the SSA will evaluate, given the claimant’s age, educational level, work history, and residual capacity to work whether they can perform substantial gainful activity.

So how do you prove you cannot perform substantial activity? Make sure your medical records clearly outline your work limitations. For instance, do your medical records clearly document the following?

• How long you can walk, sit or stand?
• Do you have to take frequent breaks?
• How much weight can you lift or carry?
• How frequently do you have to go to the restroom?
• Do you have difficulty completing a work day? Work week?
• Can you reach overhead?
• How much weight can you push or pull?
• Does your medical interfere with your ability to work?
• Can you drive?
• Have you lost a significant amount of work?
• How often do you have to go to the doctor?

These are just a few questions, but the more limitations you have to perform work functions, the more likely the SSA will determine that you do not have the residual capacity to work.