Over 64.2 million people received some type of benefits from a Social Security Administration (SSA) program in the year 2014, and 86 percent of those received payments for a disability from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Gastroparesis is one such disability that may qualify you for SSI benefits. Let’s take a closer look at this disorder and how you can apply for SSA benefits after a diagnosis.

What Is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a disorder affecting the proper functions of digestion. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a series of twisting and turning tubes, comprised Gastroparesis Card With Stethoscopeof muscle contractors called sphincters that help food move through your body and then out.

A healthy GI tract uses muscle contractions and enzymes to push digested from the stomach, through the large and small intestines, and out the anus. In a GI tract with gastroparesis, these sphincters and enzymes fail to push waste through, or move waste through much too slowly. Since these functions are largely controlled by the vagus nerve, damage by serious illness or injury can seriously affect the proper functions of digestion. Although people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gastroparesis, no known cause exists.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

This disorder can become incredibly uncomfortable and damaging, so it’s important to look out for common symptoms of gastroparesis, including:

  • Nausea

  • Feeling full after eating small portions

  • Vomiting undigested food hours after eating

  • Acid reflux, also known as heartburn

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bloating

  • Lack of appetite

Symptoms may present mildly at first and worsen over time, and is sometimes difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with many other illnesses. Additionally, as with most disorders, gastroparesis symptoms may become worse after partaking in certain behaviors, such as:

  • Eating greasy food

  • Consuming high-fiber foods

  • Drinking high-fat or carbonated beverages

Diagnosis and Treatments

Unfortunately, gastroparesis isn’t curable; it’s a chronic condition that comes and goes. For this reason, it’s important to get a diagnosis so doctors can help you become as comfortable as possible, as well as help you stay active while managing it. Common methods of diagnosis include:

  • Upper GI endoscopy: In this procedure, doctors use a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera on the end to see inside the GI tract. It is inserted through the mouth, and the patient may be anesthetized during the process to avoid severe discomfort. This method can reveal blockages or malfunctions in the GI tract.

  • Upper GI series: This series uses X-ray technology to take pictures of the patient’s GI tract. A radiologist who specializes in digestion will analyze the photos. X-rays of the GI tract only require that a patient does not eat or drink for eight hours before the event.

  • Ultrasound: Using ultrasound technology, which uses sound waves to create a picture, doctors can look inside the GI tract to determine any problems without an invasive procedure. The patient must only lie down while the doctor runs the imaging tool over the abdomen.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, doctors might use other methods to diagnose and look more closely at the GI tract to determine the cause.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

After you’ve visited a doctor and been diagnosed with gastroparesis, you might feel confused and scared about the future. Since treatments are limited and the disorder is difficult to manage, you might be wondering about your ability to work and provide for your family. Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can help ease your mind. To apply, you’ll need:

  • Results of your endoscopy, GI series, X-rays, or other diagnostic method

  • The official diagnosis from your primary physician

  • A properly completed application

It’s important to note that it can be difficult to compile the correct information and complete the application properly. To ensure turning in a complete and correct application, it’s important you consult a disability lawyer before submitting the application to the SSA.

We Can Help You

If you or your loved one has been recently diagnosed with gastroparesis and need help or have questions about your application, allow us to guide you through it. The experienced team at Keefe Disability Law has helped many others receive benefits for their disorders, and we can help you too. To get started on your application, start a live online chat with us today.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer