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Inflammatory bowel disease is used to describe medical conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. Inflammatory bowel disease includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both of these conditions can result in significant symptoms including diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss.

These symptoms may be so severe that you are unable to work. If this has happened to you, Social Security disability may be an option if you meet the requirements for eligibility.

What You Need to Prove

The Social Security Administration specifically lists inflammatory bowel disease in the Listing of Impairments (Section 5.06). In order to qualify for benefits pursuant to this section, you must prove that one of the following is true:

  • You have had obstruction (not adhesions) of stenotic areas in the small intestine or colon with proximal dilatation requiring hospitalization for intestinal decompression or surgery on at least two occasions—at least 60 days a part—within six consecutive months; or
  • You experience at least two of the following six issues despite treatment within a six month period: (1) anemia with hemoglobin of less than 10.0g/dL at least twice and at least 60 days apart; (2) serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less at least twice and at least 60 days apart; (3) clinically documented tender abdominal mass with pain or cramping that is not controlled by narcotic medication at least twice and at least 60 days apart; (4) perineal disease with a draining abscess or fistula with pain that is not controlled by narcotic medication at least twice and at least 60 days apart; (5) involuntary weight loss of at least 10% at least twice and at least 60 days apart; (6) the need for supplemental daily enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy or daily parenteral nutrition via a central venous catheter.

If you do not meet these requirements, you must prove that:

  • You meet the requirements of another listing.
  • Your condition is equal in severity to that of another listing.
  • Your condition is so severe that you are unable to work at any job.

However you qualify, you will need medical documentation to prove your eligibility.

Be Prepared With the Right Evidence

The medical evidence and documentation that you provide to the Social Security Administration should be easy to understand, detailed, and complete. Some of the specific documentation you need may include:

  • The results of an endoscopy
  • The results of a biopsy
  • The results of medical imaging tests
  • Operative findings
  • Treatments that you been prescribed
  • Information about compliance with prescribed treatments, the results of those treatments, and any side effects caused by those treatments

Additional medical evidence may be helpful in proving your claim and should be considered with your application.

Get the Help You Need Before You Apply

The process can be confusing and time consuming, but you do not need to do it on your own. Instead, you have the right to work with a board certified lawyer who will fight for your rights and work hard to get you the fair benefits you’ve earned. Please contact us today to set up an initial meeting and to learn more about securing the benefits you deserve.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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