The term "inflammatory bowel disease" (IBD) is used to describe a group of gastro-intestinal diseases. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common forms of these conditions. Crohn's disease typically affects the large and the small intestine. However, it also affects the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the anus. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects mostly the rectum and the colon.
The Social Security Administration examines disability claims for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis under the same listing of disabling conditions: Listing 5.06 (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). To be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits pursuant to this listing a person must have a medical diagnosis of a condition that is classified as IBD and suffer from the following conditions:
- Untreatable anemia
- Bowel obstruction
- Abscess or fistula
- Significant weight loss of more than 10% of a claimant's body weight
- A tender abnormal mass with pain or cramping
Moreover, the conditions described above must also exhibit the specific complications described in listing 5.06.
If a claimant does not meet the listing, he or she can still win Social Security Disability if it is demonstrated that the limitations caused IBD prevent him or her from performing any occupation in the national economy. It is important to keep in mind that most Social Security Disability cases are not won because a claimant meets a Social Security Disability listing. Instead, most cases are won by showing that the physical and/or mental limitations caused by a medical condition don't allow a person to perform any type of work. For this reason, it is a mistake for claimants to place too much emphasis on trying to meet the listing. Instead, claimants who suffer from Crohn's or ulcerative colitis need to concentrate on explaining how their condition imposes limitations on work like activities. Some of these limitations might include frequent absences from work, frequent breaks and loss of concentration due to pain and fatigue.
With the help of a competent Social Security Disability lawyer a claimant can present a compelling story of how IBD prevents him or her from working. A lawyer can assist in explaining to Social Security how the claimant's age, work skills and education factor in the disability determination process. Moreover, a good lawyer can also assist in explaining how other co-morbid conditions cause other work related limitations.