10201993_sInflammatory bowel diseases can cause numerous adverse symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting and pain. Conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also produce serious complications, including ulcers, bleeding and malnutrition. Living with these symptoms and health issues is often challenging for victims.

The causes of IBD are not known. Medical treatments may reduce the frequency of inflammatory episodes, but flare-ups can occur any time. People living with IBD may struggle to perform daily activities, including work. Social Security Disability benefits may be available to help people in Chicago, Illinois, who suffer from IBD and can no longer work in any capacity.

Criteria for IBD 

IBD is included in the Social Security Administration “Blue Book” of disabling impairments. People applying for Social Security Disability may obtain benefits by proving they suffer from a Blue Book condition, along with specified symptoms and functional limitations. The SSA requires applicants with IBD to suffer from at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Low levels of serum albumin
  • A fistula or abscess
  • A tender abdominal growth
  • Uncontrollable weight loss exceeding one-tenth of total body weight

Alternately, people with diagnosed IBD and a bowel obstruction may qualify for benefits without establishing other symptoms.

The SSA accepts several forms of medical documentation to support a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. These include biopsies, endoscopies, medical imaging and findings from a surgical procedure. Applicants who meet the criteria listed above do not have to document how IBD affects their functional abilities.

Functional capacity 

Some people suffer from an IBD that prevents gainful employment but fails to meet the above criteria. In this case, individuals may win benefits by proving their condition and symptoms “equal” the Blue Book listing for IBD. Individuals can do this by asking a treating physician to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form.

An RFC form provides a detailed description of the limitations an individual’s condition imposes. A physical RFC evaluation focuses on a person’s ability to perform tasks that are essential to most jobs. For instance, an RFC describes how long an individual can remain seated or how much weight the individual can repeatedly lift. This information helps an SSA claims examiner fully understand an applicant’s functional limitations.

The SSA will award benefits if an individual cannot return to any former jobs or perform new types of work. Even if an individual can physically perform a new job, a claims examiner may decide the individual’s education and experience preclude him or her from reasonably switching to a new occupation. People with limited or specialized working experience should provide documentation of their work history to improve the likelihood of claim approval.