Is IBS Considered a Disability?

December 20, 2020 in

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS as it is commonly referred to, is a fairly common disorder affecting the large intestine. IBS is also referred to as spastic colon, irritable colon, mucous colitis, and spastic colitis. Someone suffering from IBS likely is experiencing symptoms of cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation. It is generally a mix of stomach pain or discomfort along with difficulty in your bowel habits, either going too frequently or less often. 

IBS Cause & Diagnosis

While the cause of IBS is not well understood, it is generally thought to be caused by bacteria within your large intestine. But it could also be a secondary symptom of another disorder. Whatever the cause, the diagnosis is pretty much the same. Your medical provider will first explore with you your symptoms and medical history. Then, depending upon your answers, your doctor will likely refer you for diagnostic testing including a colonoscopy, CT scan, upper endoscopy, or a stool test. These tests will be examining your colon for anything suspicious such as fluid that may look like bacteria. The stool tests will also be looking for bacteria or parasites. 

IBS Treatment

If you are diagnosed with IBS, your treatment options will vary significantly depending upon the severity of your symptoms. For mild symptoms of IBS, your doctor will likely recommend changes in your diet and lifestyle such as eating high fiber foods, drinking plenty of fluids and exercising regularly. For symptoms that are moderate to severe, your doctor may recommend fiber supplements, laxatives, anti-diarrheal medications, anticholinergic medication to relieve painful bowel spasms, as well as pain medications. Surgical intervention is generally not recommended. However, if you are suffering from another condition impacting the functioning of your large intestine or colon, symptoms of IBS may result and you may be recommended to undergo some type of surgical intervention. 

Symptoms of IBS, the most common being stomach pain and constipation or diarrhea, can significantly interfere with your daily activities, depending upon the severity. For some, these symptoms may occur anytime they eat or drink something. They may also be brought on by stress or depression. In any event, if your symptoms are not controlled by the treatment recommendations of your medical provider, you are likely struggling to maintain employment. It is hard to believe an employer would tolerate an employee running to the bathroom several times a day for a certain length of time. If you find yourself in this situation, suffering from severe symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome, you should consider applying for social security disability benefits. 

IBS and the Social Security Disability Program

The social security disability program is a federally mandated insurance program. Meaning, if you are working and paying taxes on your working income, you are required to pay some of those taxes into the social security disability system. This is a safety net the government has set in place to help prevent those who are unable to work from becoming destitute or homeless. Social security disability provides a monthly monetary benefit as well as Medicare health insurance. A few notes about social security disability:

  1. Your monthly monetary benefit is based upon your contribution to the disability program. The average monthly benefit ranges from $1,600 to $2,000 month. 
  2. To qualify for disability benefits, you must prove you are disabled under the social security administration’s definition of disability. 
  3. SSA defines disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to any medical reason for a period of no less than 12 months or if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. This definition has a lengthy durational requirement in that you must be expected to be out of work for 12 months due to your disability. 

Regarding IBS, it tends to be difficult to prove your symptoms prevent you from working and will prevent you for a minimum of twelve months. While you are able to apply for the disability program even if you have not been out of work for twelve months, the best evidence in this type of claim is by showing you have been unable to work for twelve months due to these symptoms AND that you have been seeking regular medical treatment and following the advice of your doctor, without significant benefit. If you find yourself in this position, an application for disability benefits is likely warranted. 

Applying for Disability Benefits due to IBS

To apply for disability benefits, you would need to complete your application either by phone, in person or via the social security website. This application will ask a significant number of questions regarding your marital background, work history for the past fifteen years, current and past medical treatment, and current medications. Once an application for benefits is completed, the social security administration will then review your claim to make sure you have paid enough in taxes to qualify for the disability program. 

  • As a general rule, if you have worked the past five out of ten years, paying taxes on those earnings, you will have paid enough into the disability system to have this disability insurance coverage. 
  • Remember, disability insurance coverage provides you a potential monthly monetary benefit along with Medicare health insurance after a certain time frame. 
  • Once SSA determines you have coverage under the disability insurance program, then your case will be reviewed using a five step sequential evaluation process:
  1. The first step ensures you are not currently working or earning over a certain amount. 
  2. The second step considers whether you are suffering from a severe physical and/or mental condition. 
  3. The third step looks at whether your condition(s) qualify you for disability based upon one of social security’s listed conditions. 
  4. The fourth step determines whether your conditions prevent you from performing your past relevant work. 
  5. The fifth and final step considers whether your conditions prevent you from performing any other type of work in the national economy. 

Proving Disability

When suffering from IBS, the best way to prove you are disabled under SSA’s regulations is by having consistent medical treatment documenting the severity of your IBS symptoms. Specifically, if the pain, bloating or bowel issues you suffer impact your ability to work an 8-hour work day. Your medical treatment notes should include the severity of your symptoms, how the symptoms impact your daily life, and the type of treatment that has been recommended. Another good piece of evidence would be a statement from your medical provider about your symptoms and how they would impact you on a daily basis. You may even consider obtaining a statement from your previous employer about any write-ups you may have had or if you were terminated from your employment due to performance issues. 

LaBovick Law Group Knows How to Win Your Claim

For those suffering from IBS, you very clearly know this condition can be quite disabling. At the LaBovick Law Group, we have handled numerous claims based upon IBS symptoms alone. We know what you are going through and know how to win your claim. We will handle your claim from filing the initial application all the way to the end, with no upfront costs to you. Call us today at (561) 623-3681 so we may get your application started.