Crohn’s Disease Work Restrictions. Crohn’s disease can cause debilitating symptoms. Some people can effectively control their Crohn’s disease with medications. However, others continue to have ongoing and severe symptoms despite treatment. If your Crohn’s disease symptoms keep you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation in your digestive tract. This can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease can also cause bowel obstructions. These symptoms can often fluctuate between periods of inactivity and flare-ups. Similar conditions include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis (UC).
Getting Disability for Crohn’s Disease
Social Security considers severe Crohn’s disease a significant impairment. However, you must show that have severe symptoms. They must interfere with your normal daily activities. Additionally, your Crohn’s disease must keep you from working for at least 12 months.
Social Security’s Listing for Crohn’s Disease
Social Security provides a listing of impairments, known as the “Blue Book”. The Blue Book provides specific conditions that you must meet to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security looks at Crohn’s disease under Listing 5.06 for inflammatory bowel disease.
Meeting Listing 5.06
First, you must have a diagnosis of IBD or Crohn’s. Next, Social Security breaks down the listing into an either/or requirement. To meet the listing, your Crohn’s may meet the listing under either 5.06A or 5.06B.
Under 5.06A, you must have a bowel obstruction in the small intestine or colon with dilation and swelling. Additionally, Social Security requires:
- A hospitalization for surgery at least two times
- At least 60 days apart
- Within a consecutive 6 month period
Example 1: meeting listing 5.06A
For example, your Crohn’s disease has caused a bowel obstruction in January. You have been hospitalized and had to have surgery. You have another bowel obstruction in April, requiring another hospitalization and surgery. Since, you had two hospitalizations and surgeries within a 6 month consecutive period, you may meet Listing 5.06A.
Crohn’s Disease Work Restrictions: Listing 5.06B
Alternatively, your Crohn’s disease may meet the listing under 5.06B. This requires that you meet two conditions. You must also meet two of these conditions within a consecutive 6 month period.
- Severe anemia with hemoglobin less than 10 g/dL in two blood tests 60 days apart
- Low levels of serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less two times 60 days apart
- A tender abdominal mass with abdominal pain and cramping not controlled by prescribed pain medication, present on two exams at least 60 days apart
- Perineal disease with an abscess or fistula with pain not controlled by pain medication at least two times 60 days apart
- Involuntary weight loss of at least 10% on two exams at least 60 days apart
- The need for a feeding tube or feeding by central venous catheter
What if my Crohn’s disease doesn’t meet listing 5.06?
You may still qualify for disability benefits if you don’t meet the listing. Next, Social Security considers your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is what you can do despite your conditions. Particularly, Social Security considers:
- How long you can sit, stand or walk at one time or in an 8 hour work day
- How much weight you can lift or carry
- If pain, fatigue, other symptoms or side effects from medications cause limitations with concentration, persistence or pace
- If you can show up to work consistently, arrive on time or have to leave early
Crohn’s Disease Work Restrictions
Crohn’s disease can cause difficulty holding on to a full-time job. The pain may interfere with your ability to bend, squat or lift and carry items. Your symptoms may cause problems staying in one position to perform work for long periods of time. You may also need to take frequent trips to the bathroom. This can result in problems getting your work done. You may also have to call out of work frequently during flare-ups.
Example 2: Crohn’s disease work restrictions
For example, Joe’s Crohn’s disease causes nearly daily abdominal pain. He also uses the bathroom frequently due to bouts of diarrhea. Joe often has to leave his work station to use the bathroom. He has to call out several times a month due to flare-ups. Social Security finds that employers would unlikely keep Joe as an employee due to his frequent and severe symptoms. Therefore, Joe qualifies for Social Security disability due to his Crohn’s disease.
Documenting your Crohn’s Work Restrictions
Social Security needs a record of your medical evidence. This includes clinical and laboratory findings. It should also include imaging studies. For example, you should provide endoscopy or colonoscopy reports, CAT scans and/or MRIs. You should also provide any operative reports. Additionally, Social Security looks at your treatment and your response to treatment. You should see your doctor regularly and follow all treatment recommendations. You must have ongoing and consistent treatment in order for Social Security to approve your disability claim.
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