Receiving Disability for Digestive Issues: What You Need to Know

Did you know that your belly is very similar to your brain? Thanks to a network of more than 100 billion neurons that line the alimentary canal, the so-called “second brain” can have a tremendous effect on our emotional state and general wellbeing. In fact, over 95% of the body’s serotonin is located in the bowels. This helps to explain the Woman Holding Her Stomach Because of Digestive Issuesexperience of feeling “butterflies in the stomach” when you are nervous and why so many anti-depressant medications list digestive issues as side effects.

The science is certainly interesting, but for those Americans whose bowel disease or gastrointestinal distress make it difficult to work, a more pressing topic may be whether they are eligible to receive disability insurance. Today, we’re looking at what digestive system conditions might qualify and where to turn for help with applying for disability or appealing a denied claim.

Digestive Issues—A Real Pain in the Gut

Digestive disorders and conditions can cause pain ranging from relatively mild (heartburn, indigestion, the occasional bout of constipation) to debilitating (inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease.) In addition to the physical pain, these gastrointestinal issues can be inconvenient, messy, embarrassing, and stressful. They often hinder people from living their best lives and take a substantial toll on their emotional wellbeing. 

Gastrointestinal issues already account for 25% of all surgical procedures in the United States, and those numbers are on the rise. Currently, 20 million Americans live with chronic digestive diseases, and another 14 million are diagnosed with acute digestive disorders. 

What Conditions Qualify

If you have begun the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, or have a loved one who’s gone down this path, you’re probably familiar with the Blue Book. Officially titled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, this publication details the conditions that are eligible for SSDI. Any disease or health concern that’s listed in the Blue Book automatically meets the definition of disability—but it doesn’t mean that you automatically qualify. That’s a question for your health care provider and a representative of the Social Security Administration known as a Disability Examiner. 

The diseases and conditions that can preclude an individual from gainful employment are:

  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Colorectal and other cancers
  • Chronic liver disease caused by hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis due to excessive and long-term alcohol use
  • Liver transplant
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Severe gastrointestinal hemorrhaging that necessitates a blood transfusion
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Weight loss arising from a digestive disorder

Additional Issues That Could Impede Employment

Patients whose conditions aren’t on this list need not despair. You may still qualify for disability benefits if you have any of the following:

  • Colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease
  • Ulcers
  • Whipple’s disease
  • Wilson’s disease

Note that this is not an exhaustive list. If you are experiencing intense distress from any digestive problem, contact an SSDI lawyer. They can help determine what kind of recourse you might have. 

Additionally, you will likely want an experienced attorney’s assistance with filling out the notoriously complicated Social Security Disability Insurance forms. In the unfortunate event that your claim is denied, the lawyer’s expertise will be an absolute boon. It is very difficult to contest a denied claim on one’s own. 

The Help You Need

Living with a digestive condition, especially one that’s serious enough to prevent you from doing an honest day’s work, may be a difficult pill to swallow. But it doesn’t have to determine your quality of life, nor send you to the poorhouse. You may be eligible for benefits so that you can focus your attention on your own health and wellbeing. 

Would you like to speak to a Social Security Disability lawyer? We offer free consultations by phone or in-person at our conveniently located Natick disability law office. We also invite you to download a free copy of our report, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim, for more tips about protecting the disability benefits you’ve earned through your years of work.

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