Ulcerative Colitis and SSA Disability BenefitsUlcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which can cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. This condition is similar to other severe diseases, such as Crohns disease, although, unlike Crohns disease, which can spread deep into the layers of the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis generally only affects the innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
What do some claimants experience with ulcerative colitis?
Bleeding in the rectum
Frequency or urgency for a bowel movement
Severe abdominal cramps
Unintended weight loss
Inflammation of skin, joints and eyes
The most severe cases can cause, shock, colon rupture or toxic megacolon, which occurs when the colon becomes severely distended.
Winning disability benefits for Ulcerative Colitis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods of determining disability for claimants who have ulcerative colitis. Disability may be awarded by either meeting a listing outlined in the SSA Listing of Impairments (Blue Book) or through a medical vocational allowance.
Meeting a SSA Listing for Ulcerative Colitis
The SSA listing of Impairments is a list of the conditions and diseases that the SSA considers automatically disabling, assuming the claimant meets the nonmedical requirements for either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
Ulcerative Colitis is evaluated under Listing 5.06 Inflammatory bowel disease and claimants must display the following, according to the SSA:
A. Obstruction of stenotic areas (not adhesions) in the small intestine or colon with proximal dilatation, confirmed by appropriate medically acceptable imaging or in surgery, requiring hospitalization for intestinal decompression or for surgery, and occurring on at least two occasions at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.
B. Two of the following despite continuing treatment as prescribed and occurring within the same consecutive 6-month period:
1. Anemia with hemoglobin of less than 10.0 g/dL, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
2. Serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
3. Clinically documented tender abdominal mass palpable on physical examination with abdominal pain or cramping that is not completely controlled by prescribed narcotic medication, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
4. Perineal disease with a draining abscess or fistula, with pain that is not completely controlled by prescribed narcotic medication, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
5. Involuntary weight loss of at least 10 percent from baseline, as computed in pounds, kilograms, or BMI, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
6. Need for supplemental daily enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy or daily parenteral nutrition via a central venous catheter.
(Information above is found in the SSA Blue Book)
Meeting a Medical Vocational Allowance for Ulcerative Colitis
Disability claimants who have ulcerative colitis may not meet a listing but they may be able to prove that they do not have the residual capacity to work. The SSA will evaluate the claimants age, educational level, work history and residual functional capacity and determine if the claimant can work their current job, past jobs or retrain for new work. To wiin benefits through a medical vocational allowance the claimants will need medical documentation which proves that they do not have the ability to work.
What types of evidence will the SSA look for?
Any evidence that your condition may interfere with your reliability at work: severe stomach or abdominal pain, or severe bouts of constipation or diarrhea which may require extended or frequent trips to the bathroom.
For example, what happens if you have 3 or more severe gastric issues each week? What if you have to miss 3 or 4 hours of work? What if you have to go to the bathroom up to 10 to 20 times per day? The SSA recognizes that this level of absenteeism is not consistent with full time work in a competitive job environment and they may approve your claim through a medical vocational allowance.
Hiring a Disability Lawyer
Most claimants, who do not have a condition that meets a listing, will benefit from the expertise of a disability lawyer. Talk to a disability lawyer and find out what types of information can help with your claim. Examples can include blood tests, stool sample, a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, X-ray, and CT scan.