Suffering from severe, chronic stomach pain can make it hard to keep working. This is especially true if you also suffer from other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, or if you are experiencing side effects from the medication you take to ease the pain. If you cannot work and earn a living, you may qualify for disability benefits through a program such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
At Berger and Green, our team of disability attorneys understand the process of getting Social Security Disability for stomach pain in Pittsburgh, PA. We have seen thousands of qualifying claims and know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to see to approve an application. A member of our team can help you navigate the application process or we can help you with your appeal if the SSA denied your application. Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.
Is Stomach Pain a Qualifying Impairment for Disability Benefits?
There is no listing specifically for stomach pain in the SSA’s Blue Book of impairments and qualifying criteria. However, this does not mean you cannot meet an impairment listing and qualify for benefits. Understanding the root cause of your pain is key. If you know your diagnosis, there may be a listing you can qualify under. If not, other symptoms you suffer may have their own listing. Many applicants qualify for benefits if they also suffer from ailments like:
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging;
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD);
- Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS); and
- Weight loss or malnutrition.
Each impairment listing has its own criteria you must meet to qualify as disabled. The disability examiner will require medical evidence to show you meet these criteria. This should include all available lab and clinical reports, as well as treatment notes, outcomes, and other documentation to prove the duration and serious nature of your condition. They will likely also expect:
- Endoscopy results;
- Doctor’s findings and notes; and
- Medically appropriate imaging scans.
Often the best place to start if you believe you may meet the qualifications for disability is to discuss your condition and your application with your physician. Your doctor can help you understand the specific criteria in any applicable impairment listings, as well as ensure you have the medical evidence necessary to qualify. They may also play a key role in getting benefits if you do not meet an impairment listing, so it is a good idea to keep them informed about your application.
Getting Disability Benefits If You Do Not Meet an Impairment Listing
You may still qualify for disability benefits even if you do not meet an impairment listing. This is possible based on your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA disability examiner considers your RFC to determine if you are physically and mentally able to work. This exam looks at your ability to perform certain work and daily living tasks.
There are three ways the SSA determines your RFC:
- The disability examiner evaluates your abilities based on your application and documentation;
- Your doctor evaluates your abilities; or
- The SSA asks a third-party physician to examine you and evaluate your RFC.
If your RFC shows you cannot work your previous job or any other job, you will likely qualify for disability.
Meeting the Technical Qualifications for Disability Benefits
Many people only think about proving they suffer from a qualifying impairment when applying for disability benefits. However, this is only half the battle. If you do not meet the technical qualifications for these programs, your local Social Security field office will issue a technical denial of your claim.
There are two primary technical qualifications for SSDI: earning under the substantial gainful activity limit and having enough work credits.
The substantial gainful activity limit applies only to the money you earn from working at a time that you say you are disabled. You can have unlimited income from rental property, investments, and other sources.
SSDI requires you to have worked long enough to earn a certain number of work credits based on your age. If you have worked at least part-time for the last 10 years, you probably meet the qualifications. You earn these credits when you pay Social Security taxes through your employer.
SSI is a need-based program, so most of the technical qualifications are financial in nature. To qualify for SSI, you must have an extremely low income. Most types of income count toward this total. In addition, you must have few assets with cash value. This excludes your home, car, and tools for working.
Appealing an SSA Decision
Many people who apply for disability receive a denial for their initial claim. This does not mean you will never get benefits, but it does mean you will need to take an extra step and file an appeal. We can help you with this process by requesting an appeals hearing and presenting your case to an administrative law judge.
You only have a limited time to act after you receive a letter of denial, so we recommend calling us right away. The appeals process can take many, many months, so we need to get you on the hearing docket as quickly as possible.
The date of your hearing may be several months away, but this gives us time to get to the bottom of your denial. Closer to the time of your hearing, we can gather additional evidence and put together a strong argument for your approval.
When the date of the hearing arrives, we present your case to a judge with the best authority we have to overturn your denial. Most of our well-qualified clients receive approval during this hearing. They begin getting their monthly benefits and back benefits shortly after.
Talk to a Pittsburgh Attorney About Getting Disability for Stomach Pain
At Berger and Green, our disability team knows how hard it can be when you cannot work because of your health. We can help you understand if you meet the qualifications for disability and double-check your application before you file it. If the SSA already denied your claim, we will walk you through the appeals process and fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact us today at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.