Crohn’s and Colitis

Winning your Social Security Disability case based on Crohn’s Disease or another inflammatory bowel condition  means proving to the Social Security Administration that you cannot reliably perform even a simple, unskilled entry level type of job because of your symptoms or medication side effects.  In a Crohn’s case, winning arguments usually relate to your reliability as well as to pain and weakness caused by this disease.  Often I present evidence about my clients’ need to take excessive bathroom breaks or his/her need to stay in the restroom for more than 10 minutes at a time.

There are two types of arguments that I use when presenting a Crohn’s & Colitis case to a Social Security judge.  Sometimes I present one or the other, and sometimes I present both – it depends on the nature and quality of the medical and vocational evidence in your file as well as my evaluation as to how you will perform as a witness.

One argument involves meeting the listing for inflammatory bowel disease, and looks primarily to the medical documentation in your file.  If your case is “listing level,” it typically means that you have:

  • chronic obstructions
  • anemia resulting from malabsorption of nutrients
  • a painful abdominal mass
  • a draining abscess
  • a sudden unexplained weight loss

As is the case with most of the listings, the medical requirements for disability are very strict and difficult to meet.   Not meeting the listing does not mean that you are able to work, it just means that we have to look beyond lab reports and diagnostic testing to produce evidence of your disability.

If you do not meet a listing, I would look at your case to see if we can prove inability to work using a reduced functional capacity argument.

A functional capacity argument considers your capacity to perform work and it looks more broadly at the medical evidence – including for example the side effects of medications, the impact of other medical or mental health issues and your doctor’s opinion about various work-like activities that you might have to perform.

When I argue functional capacity I look for medical records that document an on-going issue as well as evidence from your testimony and the record to show that you could not get through an 8 hour workday.   Often I can get this information by asking your treating doctor to fill out a functional capacity evaluation form.

I put together a form that tracks your specific issues.  For example, if one of the reasons why you cannot work has to do with your need to take excessive bathroom breaks, I will include several questions on the form that ask the doctor to comment on the number of times in a day you are likely to need a restroom break, and how long that break might be.

Most of the cases I take to hearing involve functional capacity arguments.

Either presentation assumes that you have had and are undergoing regular medical evaluation and treatment and that your condition would cause you to take unscheduled breaks during the course of a workday and/or miss multiple days of work per month.

Crohn’s and Colitis Disability Case Study #1 – 54 year old male who was housekeeping supervisor of downtown hotel

Crohn’s and Colitis Disability Case Study #2 – 34 year old female with remote history of radical surgery and placement of ostomy bag, and more recent flareup that prevented work for closed period of disability