Some people with ulcerative colitis qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) based on their current health condition and future prognosis. This chronic gastrointestinal disorder can lead to disability and prevent you from working in a number of ways. Those with a low income and few resources may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
At Berger and Green, we have helped hundreds of others like you—frustrated and stressed, needing guidance about how to get the disability benefits they deserve. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your claim or you need help navigating other aspects of the disability application process, we are here for you. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to talk to one of our attorneys about getting disability for ulcerative colitis in Pittsburgh.
How can ulcerative colitis cause a disability?
Ulcerative colitis takes its name from the irritation, swelling, and ulcers that occur with the condition. These symptoms primarily affect the lining of the large intestine and cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms. These may include:
- Abdominal pain and tenderness;
- Diarrhea with fecal incontinence;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Inflamed sections of bowel that appear as abnormal masses; and
- Perineal disease.
One of the most serious effects of this condition is the possibility of malnutrition and related complications. Severe cases often call for surgery to divert the intestinal tract through the creation of a colostomy or through an ileostomy. These procedures frequently allow people to maintain proper nutrition and return to work. If this type of procedure is not possible or is not effective, you may qualify for disability based on your body’s inability to meet your nutritional needs.
How can I qualify for disability for ulcerative colitis?
Before you can apply for disability benefits, you need to ensure your condition qualifies. The SSA lays out their rules in a book of impairment listings often referred to as The Blue Book. The applicable impairment listings for ulcerative colitis are in Section 5.00.
To qualify, your medical history, test results, and records from your treating physicians should show:
- Obstructions caused by inflammation or narrowing of the digestive tract that require hospitalization, occurring at least twice in a six-month period; or
- Two of the following symptoms occurring during a six-month period:
- Anemia with hemoglobin below 10.0 g/dL;
- Serum albumin at 3.0 g/dL or below;
- Clinically proven mass causing uncontrollable pain;
- Perineal disease, with fistula or abscess;
- Ten percent or more weight loss; or
- The daily need for supplemental nutrition through a gastrostomy.
In some cases, you can still qualify for benefits even if your ulcerative colitis does not meet the guidelines in the impairment listings. To learn more, you should discuss why you cannot work with your doctor and ask them about your limitations. It also pays to let them know you are thinking of applying for disability, because they will need to ensure they carefully document your condition and any disabilities linked to it.
What type of evidence do I need to prove I qualify for disability?
The most difficult part of qualifying for disability is ensuring your medical records document all the necessary impairments. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD) has specific things they look for in your medical records to show your condition or related symptoms meets the criteria outlined in the impairment listings.
For this reason, you should submit a comprehensive list of your medical providers, including:
- Clinical and laboratory results;
- Any applicable imaging studies;
- Endoscopy and colonoscopy findings;
- Details about hospitalizations;
- Notes and records from any operations; and
- Any other records to document the severity and duration of your symptoms.
You will also need to submit documentation of your treatment and any side effects, if they play a role in causing your impairments. This includes:
- The name and dosage of your medication;
- How you administer your medication;
- The effectiveness of the treatment;
- Any side effects you experience;
- How long you may need to take the medication.
Many people with ulcerative colitis qualify for SSD benefits because they require either parenteral, or intravenous, nutrition or supplemental enteral nutrition through a gastrostomy. If you receive some or all your nutrition through these means, you will need to ensure your medical records reflect this and document it as part of your treatment.
Do I need to talk to an attorney about disability for my ulcerative colitis?
At Berger and Green, we can review your application information and medical records to ensure you meet the qualifications before you apply for disability.
If the BDD has sent you a letter denying your benefits, reach out to us as soon as possible. We have 60 days following this denial to request reconsideration and begin the appeals process. We will guide you through this process and fight to get you the benefits you deserve.
How can I reach a Pittsburgh disability lawyer?
The attorneys at Berger and Green understand how frustrating it can be to want to provide for your family but be too sick to do so. If your ulcerative colitis or side effects from treatments prevent you from paying your bills and providing for your family, you may qualify for benefits.
We can help you understand any benefits available to you and review your documentation before you apply. If you have already received a denial of benefits, we can help you navigate the appeals process. Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 to learn more about how we can help you get the benefits you deserve.