Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of the lower bowel. It can cause severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. In its most severe form, Crohn’s disease can interfere with a person’s ability to work. Thus, persons with a serious form of Crohn’s disease can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Crohn’s disease usually manifests itself when the patient is about 20-30 years old, but it can occur at any age. The disease is an inflammatory attack by the body’s auto-immune system on the connection between the ileum and the large colon. The disease has no known cause and no recognized cure other than surgery, but its symptoms have been well-documented. These include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stools, mouth sores, reduced appetite and weight loss. An especially difficult symptom involves pain or drainage near the anus caused by inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (known as a fistula).
The disease can become disabling depending on the degree of seriousness. Crohn’s disease often results in a bowel obstruction and ulcers. The disease can also penetrate the intestinal wall, allowing contents of the colon to enter other parts of the body. Several medications are used to control the disease, but none is considered a cure.
An applicant for SSDI benefits must prove the existence of a permanent total disability caused by an illness that is permanent or is expected to result in the patient’s death within 12 months. A severe case of Crohn’s disease meets these criteria. An applicant for disability benefit should be prepared to provide all medical records relating to Crohn’s disease and all employment records that validate the claim of total disability. A lawyer experienced in handling SSDI claims can provide significant assistance in assembling the information to support the application for benefits and in appealing an adverse decision.