Is Diverticulitis a Disability? All about Diverticulitis disability benefits
If you are suffering from severe diverticulitis, you may be entitled to Disability benefits. Diverticulitis is not included among the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing of impairments, known as the “Blue Book.” The Blue Book is a listing of impairments that have been pre-determined through federal rulemaking to be severe enough to prevent gainful activity, are permanent or expected to result in death, or last continuously for a stated duration (usually a minimum expectation of at least 12 months).
The Blue Book criteria, however, are only one step of the SSA disability evaluation process. Other conditions that impact your ability to work, but are not listed in the Blue Book, may be evaluated under the criteria of a similar listed condition. While a diagnosis of diverticulitis may not directly entitle you to benefits, it is still possible to establish disability based on a condition that presents similar symptoms.
For example, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an impairment listed in the Blue Book that shares many similarities with diverticulitis. You may be able to establish entitlement to diverticulitis disability benefits if you meet the eligibility criteria for IBD. Your record must demonstrate that you are experiencing similar symptoms as IBD, that those symptoms negatively impact your ability to work, and that they will last for the amount of time required by SSA rules.
Here is a short guide to help determine whether you might be eligible and, if so, how to obtain Social Security disability benefits for diverticulitis.
What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is an infection or inflammation of intestinal pouches, known as diverticula. It can be minor, but can also be quite severe, causing dangerous infection or a perforated bowel, which can be life threatening. Symptoms of diverticulitis include persistent pain and cramping of the abdomen lasting for several days, as well as fever, nausea, and constipation. In extreme cases, symptoms may lead to changes in the bowel habits of a person.
You may have a disability for Diverticulitis when your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working over a continuous period of time.
Several risk factors contribute to the condition. These include age, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and the use of certain medications, such as steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and opiates.
Types of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is generally classified into two types:
- Simple/Uncomplicated Diverticulitis – This type is usually treatable with medications and other medical interventions. Surgery is typically not required. About 75% of diverticulitis cases are uncomplicated.
- Complicated – In this case, surgery may be needed. Surgery is necessary when the condition and symptoms are severe and cannot be treated with medications and dietary changes. This accounts for about 25% of diverticulitis cases.
Treatment Options Available for Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis can impact people differently, which can, in turn, impact treatment differently. In severe or complicated cases, your doctor may recommend antibiotics or suggest you undergo surgery at the outset to avoid any further complications and discomfort. Alternatively, multiple episodes of recurrent but otherwise uncomplicated diverticulitis may necessitate surgery or more intense medical intervention. Or, severe complications from
diverticulitis, such as a bowel abscess, may be sufficient to warrant surgery.
In uncomplicated cases, hospitalization may not be needed because symptoms can be treated at home. Your doctor may recommend some antibiotics or suggest you make some diet changes until the symptoms improve. For example, a doctor might place you on a liquid diet for a few days until your condition improves.
Can you get disability for Diverticulitis?
As mentioned, the SSA hasn’t included diverticulitis in its Blue Book listing of impairments. You may, however, still establish entitlement to disability benefits by matching similar symptoms and criteria listed under IBD. To put it succinctly, you must be able to demonstrate that your diverticulitis meets the IBD criteria to be eligible for disability benefits.
The SSA disability process is multi-layered. Thus, even if your symptoms or condition do not meet the IBD disability criteria, there are additional ways to demonstrate that your condition is disabling, thereby entitling you to benefits, Proving these alternative ways can become complicated. For example, you must show that your condition prevents you from continuing your current employment and that symptoms lead to such severe physical limitations that you are unlikely to be able to transition to another type of vocation.
The SSA will assess what they refer to as your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). The RFC is a determination of whether you can perform any other kind of work, taking into consideration your education, age, and prior work experience. The important thing to know is that if you are experiencing such severe, prolonged symptoms that you are no longer able to work, you may be eligible for the Social Security Disability for Diverticulitis.
How to get disability benefits for Diverticulitis?
You may be entitled to disability benefits for diverticulitis if you meet the eligibility criteria. You can initiate the process by filing an application with the SSA. Many people will be denied upon their first attempt at applying for these benefits for reasons as simple as an incomplete application, lack of evidence,
or the wrong type of evidence.
It is important to ensure you have access to all relevant medical documentation and records before applying for Social Security disability for diverticulitis. A Social Security disability lawyer who understands the intricacies of the disability claims process is available to assist you with every aspect of your disability claim, from the initial application to appealing an adverse decision.
The dedicated team of professional attorneys at Berke Law, P.A. have been advising clients on claims for disability benefits for decades. We highly advise prospective applicants to consult with our experienced disability attorneys to discuss their disability-related concerns. If you are experiencing severe symptoms from diverticulitis that prevent you from working, contact our office today.