Digestive System Disorders

SSD Digestive System Disorders

The human digestive system is one of the body’s largest and busiest systems. Its primary job is to process the food you eat, extracting nutrients and energy from it and disposing of any waste products the body cannot use. When it works properly, the digestive system keeps the body running in a healthy, pain-free way with minimal fuss. But when something goes wrong, serious disabilities can result.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to many disabled individuals whose digestive system disorders prevent them from working at any job. Most qualifying digestive system disorders are listed in the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security publication, also known as the “Blue Book.” Digestive disorders that aren’t listed, however, may still qualify a person for disability benefits if the person can demonstrate that the disorder prevents him or her from working and is expected to last at least one year and/or to result in death.

Types of Digestive Disorders

In addition to conditions that affect the stomach specifically, the SSA considers any of the following to be “digestive disorders“:

  • gastrointestinal hemorrhage;
  • liver dysfunction, including liver transplants;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • short bowel syndrome; or
  • malnutrition.

It’s not always easy to demonstrate to the Social Security Administration that a digestive disorder is so severe that it prevents you from working and that it will keep preventing you from working in the long term. According to its “Blue Book,” the SSA tends to assume that most digestive disorders will heal with proper treatment and allow the patient to return to some kind of paid employment.

Medical Points of Evaluation

When evaluating the medical records of a person with a digestive system disorder to determine whether or not the person should receive disability benefits, the SSA considers a number of factors. Major considerations include:

  • The type of treatment the person is receiving or had received in the past. Common treatments for digestive system disorders include medications, surgery, and parenteral nutrition (feeding through an IV) or supplemental enteral nutrition (usually through a feeding tube, gastrostomy, or similar device).
  • The dosage, method, and frequency of medication or other treatment. How is the treatment applied? How much medication or supplemental nutrition is consumed? How often is the treatment received? The answers to these questions typically depend on what type of treatment is used.
  • The patient’s response to the treatment. Is it working well, or did more serious complications arise? How well can the patient function before, during, and after treatment?
  • Any adverse effects of treatment. Many types of medical treatments have side effects, and some side effects can be severe.
  • The expected duration of treatment, or how long the treatment is expected to last. Some treatments may be prescribed only for short periods, while others may be required for years – even for the rest of the patient’s life.

Digestive system disorders can be difficult to live with for many reasons. A working digestive system is a necessary part of keeping a person alive and healthy. Since a large part of the digestive system’s purpose is to control bathroom functions, a malfunctioning digestive system can also be messy and embarrassing for a patient. When digestive system disorders prevent a person from working or threaten his or her life, disability benefits may be available.

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