Disabling Condition: Digestive Disorders

by Editorial Board on July 18, 2014 · 0 comments

in Digestive Diseases

Digestive disorder conditions  include gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatic (liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, malnutrition.

Liver/hepatitis C

  1. Have you had a liver biopsy?
  2. Does your doctor take your blood?
  3. Do you have bloating and pain associated with liver disease?
  4. Do you drink alcohol?
  5. Have you been on interferon?  If so, did you have side effects?

Stomach and Voiding problems (Crohn’s, colitis, gastritis, irritable bowel)

  1. Do you have incontinence?  If so, what is the frequency and what accommodations are needed to manage it, i.e. need to be near bathroom, have accidents even with wearing an “attends”?
  2. Do you have to wear an “attends”?  If so, do you have trouble paying for them?  Also, are there problems associated with using them such as the smell and the need for long bathroom breaks to change and deal with them?
  3. Have you seen a gastrointestinal doctor who has diagnosed your disorder?

Our digestive track begins when we take in food (at the mouth) and ends when we eliminate the waste (anus) and includes all the organs along the way (esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, etc.)  These various organs are all involved in breaking down the food and insuring that the nutrients are properly absorbed.  Malfunctions often cause blocked blood flow within the system leading to bleeding, obstructions leading to infections, the build-up of harmful waste that can cause damage, and organ failure.

Some diseases of the digestive system are episodic, such as Crohn’s and can be disabling due to frequent hospitalizations (twice in 6 months) to treat obstructions, damage and significant weight loss.

When the bowels have to be treated by resection (removal of the dead and/or infected parts of the intestine) the remaining bowel may significantly alter the ability to eat normally.  Social Security will consider all of these significant problems as severe and potentially disabling.

Liver disease can progress to an irreversible condition called cirrhosis.  This condition is often associated with ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity) or hydrothorax (fluid in the lung) which can be seen by a doctor on examination.  Abnormal blood work (look for abnormal findings of albumin and INR) associated with this condition can also indicate advanced liver disease.  When these are established in the medical record, Social Security will find the condition disabling.

But prior to liver cirrhosis, the liver may be diagnosed as fatty or fibrotic (scar tissue).  This damage is reversible and if caused by alcohol consumption, Social Security will not find the damage disabling.   By contrast, cirrhosis will get worse with alcohol use but will not get better by abstinence.  Social Security will evaluate the severity of liver disease due to alcohol use with this in mind.

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