Social Security and Crohn's Disease

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Those with Crohn's disease will need to collect medical evidence before applying for disability.

Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the intestines. The Social Security Administration evaluates cases involving Crohn's disease using the digestive system evaluation criteria set forth in the SSA Blue Book. The Blue Book specifically addresses Crohn's disease. According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of American, approximately half a million people in the U.S. suffer from Crohn's disease.

  1. Significance

    • Crohn's disease, a type of incurable inflammatory bowel disease, affects the digestive system. Crohn's disease severity fluctuates through periods of acute inflammation and periods of remission. Treatments may reduce symptoms, but the condition never goes away completely. Symptoms of Crohn's disease must significantly impact one's ability to work for a period of at least one year in order to meet disability qualifications.

    Function

    • Crohn's disease can significantly limit daily function and cause those affected to be unable to work. Symptoms of Crohn's disease include diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Complications of Crohn's disease include bowel obstructions and ulcers.

    Time Frame

    • In order to qualify for disability benefits, applicants must have worked recently. Those younger than 24 must have worked at least one and half years during the three years preceding the onset of disability. Applicants between the ages of 24 and 30 must have worked at least three years out of the six years preceding the onset of disability and applicants 31 and older must have worked at least five years out of the 10 years preceding the date of disability.

    Documentation

    • Applicants must provide medical documentation to apply for benefits. Documentation required for digestive disorders includes clinical records, laboratory results, endoscopy results, operation history and medicine prescription history. Other evidence may include CAT scans, X-rays, sonograms and MRIs. Documentation should detail the duration and severity of the Crohn's disease.

    Considerations

    • If the symptoms and complications of Crohn's disease respond favorably to treatment, the SSA may find that the condition does not result in a disability. However, if the treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, the SSA may find that a disability exists. In addition, if treatments result in additional debilitating side effects, the SSA may find that a disability exists as a result of both Crohn’s disease and the related medication side effects. The Mayo Clinic advises that common medications for Crohn's disease often cause headaches, heartburn, nausea vomiting, hypertension, kidney damage, liver damage, seizures, cataracts and insomnia. The SSA considers age, education, work experience and "functional capacity" when making disability decisions.

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