Bowel incontinence can make it difficult to work, especially in a job that does not allow for close proximity to a bathroom and frequent breaks. Naturally, incontinence can increase anxiety and stress levels, if you worry you will not make it to the toilet on time. If your symptoms make it difficult to work and make ends meet, you may meet the qualifications for disability benefits. These include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
At Berger and Green, we know what it takes to get disability benefits in Pittsburgh. We can evaluate your application to ensure it is complete before filing, or help you fight for the benefits you need after an SSD denial. We can get qualifying clients approved for SSDI or SSI benefits, and recover back benefits on their behalf when available. Let us help you understand how to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) for bowel incontinence. Call our team at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.
Is Bowel Incontinence a Qualifying Impairment for Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of the medical conditions it considers disabling. This list, called the Blue Book, does not have a specific impairment listing for bowel incontinence. However, you might meet the criteria listed under the root cause of your incontinence or under Section 5.00 – Digestive Disorders.
If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), for example, you may qualify for disability benefits if you meet the criteria the Blue Book. These include:
- Low serum albumin levels;
- A mass or obstruction in the abdomen, colon, or small intestine;
- Perineal disease;
- Involuntary weight loss; or
- Requiring nutrition through a central venous catheter.
You may also qualify for disability benefits you have a concurrent condition, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Our attorneys can help you understand if your medical condition is in the Blue Book.
After you submit your application, a disability examiner for the SSA will inspect your medical records and supporting documents to see if your condition meets the criteria necessary to qualify. In addition to looking for test results, imaging scans, and other materials, they will need proof that your condition has persisted for at least a year, will last for a year, or is likely going to cause your death.
Your doctor can provide information and offer advice about your diagnosis and prognosis before you apply for disability. It is always a good idea to work with your physician, because they will know to include all necessary information in your medical records to document your impairment.
Can I Get Disability Benefits If I Do Not Meet the Criteria in an Impairment Listing?
Many people struggle to work because of their bowel incontinence, but do not suffer from other symptoms severe enough to meet the criteria under an impairment listing. When this occurs, there is another way you can get SSD for bowel incontinence: your residual functional capacity (RFC).
When the disability examiner first receives your file, they weigh the information in your medical records against any applicable impairment listings. If this is not successful in qualifying you, they will consider your RFC.
There are three ways you get an RFC:
- The doctor from Disability Determination Services assigns it based on your medical records;
- Your physician submits a special worksheet documenting your abilities; or
- You undergo a consultative exam—which the SSA pays for.
The doctor may ask you to complete a number of work-related and everyday tasks and record your ability level. Your RFC indicates the type of work you are capable of, how often, and for how long. If the SSA determines you cannot work any job you might qualify for, you will probably receive disability benefits.
Are There Other Rules for Getting Disability Benefits?
The first test your application must pass occurs in the local field office before the SSA even considers your medical qualifications. First, you must meet all of the technical qualifications of the program you are applying for. These qualifications vary by program.
SSDI requires you to have a demonstrated work history to qualify for benefits. You must have earned a specific number of work credits. How many you need depends on your age. In addition, you will need to earn less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, if you are still working. This limit does not include investment income or other types of unearned income. It only looks at the wages, commissions, and tips you earn from working.
SSI has strict income and asset limits, meaning you can only qualify if you have very little money or resources. The limit for SSI includes most types of income, although the program allows for certain deductions and exemptions. When calculating your eligibility, the SSA does not include the value of your home, your primary vehicle, or tools you work with, for example.
Can I File an Appeal If the SSA Denied My Initial SSD Claim?
It is a sad fact: The SSA denies more applications than it approves. Most people who need these benefits and meet the qualifications still have to navigate the appeals process to get the monthly payments they need. We can help you through this process by requesting your appeals hearing, investigating your denial, and building a strong case for approving your claim.
When your hearing date arrives, we will represent you in front of the administrative law judge. We will present the evidence to back up our request to overturn your denial. Our attorneys are usually successful at getting qualified clients the benefits they deserve at this point. If not, we may continue fighting for your benefits until we exhaust all options depending on the circumstances of your case.
How Can I Talk to a Pittsburgh Disability Attorney?
At Berger and Green, we have helped many people from Pittsburgh get the SSDI or SSI benefits they deserve. We offer free claim evaluations, and can even review your paperwork before you apply for benefits. If the SSA denies your claim, we will handle the appeals process. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.