The Social Security Administration has issued Social Security Ruling (SSR) 15- 1p, which became effective immediately upon publication. 80 Fed. Reg. 14215 (Mar. 18, 2015). This ruling replaces SSR 02-2p, which became effective in 2002.
The new ruling describes interstitial cystitis (IC) as “a complex genitourinary disorder involving recurring pain or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region.” Some medical providers and organizations, including the American Urological Association, consider the disease synonymous with “painful bladder syndrome” and “bladder pain syndrome.” The SSR states that although it uses the term IC, it is designed to address other medical conditions. IC more prevalent in women. It can happen at the same time as other diseases including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, vulvodynia, chronic headaches, Sjögren’s syndrome, endometriosis, or systemic lupus erythematosus. The most common way of diagnosing this condition is by a process of elimination of other disorders with similar symptoms. Tests used to determine a diagnosis are part of a complex ruling-out process. Tests include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall and urethra, distention of the bladder under anesthesia, and culture of prostate secretions. Doctors are able to treat the symptoms of IC in some patients only.
Much of the SSR applies existing SSA policy to IC. For example, it states that when adjudication occurs less than 12 months before a claimant’s alleged onset date, SSA will use “information about the person’s treatment and response to treatment, including any medical source opinions about the person’s prognosis at the end of 12 months, helps us decide whether to expect an MDI of IC to be of disabling severity for at least 12 consecutive months.” Also, once an individual is found to have an MDI of IC, the adjudicator must proceed through the sequential evaluation process, determining whether the MDI is “severe,” whether the claimant meets or equals a listing (there is no listing for IC itself), and if not, what the claimant’s residual functional capacity is and whether is allows a return to past or other work.