Can people with Crohn’s disease qualify for disability benefits?

Can people with Crohn's disease qualify for disability benefits

Crohn’s disease and colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), are chronic conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. These conditions can significantly impact daily life, work, and overall well-being.

This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of these conditions, their symptoms, and their impact on daily life and work. We will also discuss the possibility of qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits and the benefits of hiring a disability attorney.

What are Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Crohn’s disease is a type of IBD that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. The inflammation often spreads into the deeper layers of the bowel.

Colitis, specifically ulcerative colitis, is another type of IBD that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine and rectum. The inflammation in your colon can affect the way food is digested, causing pain, diarrhea, and sometimes blood in your stool.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Colitis

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and colitis can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly.

Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea: Often with blood or pus in severe cases.
  • Abdominal pain and cramping: This can be severe and is often accompanied by a feeling of a filled abdomen.
  • Weight loss and reduced appetite: These are common symptoms, often due to abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Fatigue: A common symptom that can be severe during flare-ups.
  • Joint pain or arthritis: Inflammation can spread to joints, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Eye problems: Inflammation can also affect the eyes, leading to conditions like uveitis.
  • Incontinence, fistula, abdominal mass, and abdominal distention: These are more severe symptoms that can occur as the disease progresses.

Potential Complications of Crohn’s Disease and Colitis

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease can lead to several complications, including:

  • Intestinal obstruction: Chronic inflammation can thicken the wall of your intestines, leading to partial or full blockage.
  • Fistulas: These are abnormal connections that can form between different parts of the intestine or between the intestine and other parts of the body due to ulcers extending through the intestinal wall.
  • Abscesses: These are pockets of pus that can form when inflammation extends through the intestinal wall.
  • Anal fissures: These are small tears in the opening of the anus, which can cause pain and bleeding during bowel movements.
  • Malnutrition: Poor nutrient absorption can lead to weight loss, vitamin deficiency, and weak bones.
  • Inflammation in other areas of your body: This can include the skin, eyes, joints, liver or bile ducts, and kidneys.
  • Kidney stones: These can form when there is an excess of waste material and not enough liquid in your urine.
  • Anemia: This is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues.
  • Increased risk of colon cancer: Having Crohn’s disease that affects your colon increases your risk of colon cancer.


Colitis can also lead to several complications, including:

  • Perforated colon: This is a hole in the colon that can occur if the disease is left untreated for a prolonged period.
  • Severe dehydration: This can occur due to persistent diarrhea.
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis): This can occur due to malnutrition.
  • Increased risk of colon cancer: Just like Crohn’s disease, having colitis increases your risk of colon cancer.
  • Toxic megacolon: This is a rare but serious complication characterized by rapid swelling of the colon.
  • Increased risk of clotting in blood vessels: This can occur due to the inflammatory nature of the disease.

It’s important to note that while these complications can be serious, they are not inevitable. Regular check-ups and appropriate treatment can help manage these conditions and prevent complications. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice based on your medical history and current health status.

Treatment Options for Crohn’s Disease and Colitis

Crohn’s Disease

There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no single treatment that works for everyone. The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms.

Here are some common treatment options:

Medications: There are several groups of drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease.

These include:

  • Aminosalicylates (5-ASA): These drugs are not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in Crohn’s, yet they can work to decrease inflammation in the lining of the GI tract.
  • Corticosteroids: These suppress the immune system and are used to treat moderate to severely active Crohn’s disease.
  • Immunomodulators: This class of medications modulates or suppresses the body’s immune system response so it cannot cause ongoing inflammation.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Changes in diet can help manage symptoms and promote healing.
  • Surgery: In severe cases or when complications arise, surgery may be beneficial.


Treatment for colitis depends on the type of colitis and the symptoms.

Here are some common treatment options:

Medications: Several medications can be used to treat colitis. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Such as Balsalazide, Mesalamine, Olsalazine, Sulfasalazine
  • Analgesics: To relieve pain.
  • Anti-diarrheal agents: To control diarrhea.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Certain foods can exacerbate symptoms, so dietary changes can be beneficial.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, a part of the colon may be removed.

Remember, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the best treatment options for your specific condition. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current health status.

Impact on Daily Life and Work

Living with Crohn’s disease or colitis can significantly impact daily life. The unpredictable nature of these conditions can lead to challenges in managing relationships, navigating social situations, and maintaining body image. It can also affect the ability to work effectively.

Social Security Disability Benefits

If the symptoms of Crohn’s disease or colitis are severe enough to prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) includes Crohn’s disease and colitis under the IBD category in their disability evaluation criteria.

Hiring a Disability Attorney

Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer can provide several benefits, especially if you’re dealing with complex issues related to your disability claim.

Here are some key benefits:

  • Expertise in Social Security Disability Law: Disability lawyers have a deep understanding of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application processes. They can guide you through the complexities of these processes, helping you understand your rights and options.
  • Assistance with Application and Documentation: Disability lawyers can help you fill out your SSDI or SSI application and gather the necessary medical records and other evidence for your claim. They can review your application for mistakes or omissions that could hurt your chances of success.
  • Communication with Medical Providers and the SSA: Disability lawyers can communicate effectively with your medical providers and the Social Security Administration (SSA). They can address any questions or concerns better than you could, which could make your doctor(s) more willing to help with your claim.
  • Representation at Legal Hearings: If your claim goes to the hearing level, having a disability lawyer to represent you can be invaluable. They can prepare you for the hearing, represent you during the hearing, and ensure that your case is presented in the best possible light.
  • Increased Likelihood of Approval: Studies have shown that applicants who used an attorney or a nonattorney representative in hearings before a judge in the appeals process were awarded SSDI benefits 2.9 times more often than those who did not have representation.
  • Contingency Fee Basis: Disability lawyers are paid on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if your claim is approved. The SSA also sets limits on how much these lawyers can charge in fees, and those fees are deducted from your past-due disability benefits.

In conclusion, while you can apply for SSDI or SSI on your own, having a disability lawyer on your side can provide significant advantages. They can help you navigate the application process, gather necessary medical documentation, and represent you in any hearings.

While living with Crohn’s disease or colitis can be challenging, understanding these conditions and knowing your rights and options can help you navigate your journey. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. For personalized guidance, please consult us at 504-588-9123 or at

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