Applying for Disability Benefits with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome

Despite the debilitating conditions it can cause, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) isn’t always taken seriously. According to experts, inflammatory bowel syndrome generally isn’t considered as disabling as other chronic diseases. As a result, it can be more difficult to qualify for disability benefits with inflammatory bowel syndrome. But if properly documented, it is possible to qualify for Social Security disability for inflammatory bowel syndrome. And the secondary symptoms associated with IBS may also qualify individuals – even if an IBS diagnosis does not.

Gathering Required Medical Documentation for Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome Claims

The SSA’s eligibility requirements for IBS requires medical documentation. This can be done with an endoscopy, biopsy, medically acceptable imaging, or operative findings. These findings must show:

  • Obstruction of stenotic areas (not adhesions) in the small intestine or colon with proximal dilation and
  • The obstruction must require hospitalization for intestinal decompression or for surgery and
  • It must have occurred on at least two occasions at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.


Two of the following within the same consecutive 6-month period:

  1. Anemia with hemoglobin of less than 10.0 g/dL. The anemia must be present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
  2. Serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less. The serum albumin must be present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
  3. Clinically documented tender abdominal mass palpable on physical examination. The mass must be associated with abdominal pain or cramping that is not controlled by narcotic medication. The mass must be present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
  4. Perineal disease with a draining abscess or fistula. The pain must not be completely controlled by prescribed narcotic medication. It must also be present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or
  5. Involuntary weight loss totaling at least 10% from baseline (present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart); or
  6. Need for supplemental daily enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy. Or, a daily parenteral nutrition via a central venous catheter.

Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome Secondary Symptoms

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements listed above, don’t lose hope. IBS causes several secondary symptoms that usually count as “disabling” for 12 months or longer. These can include depression, cognition, severe pain, and others.

In addition, inflammatory bowel syndrome patients cannot sustain “gainful employment” under the SSA’s rules to qualify. A 2017 study looked at how an IBS diagnosis correlates with the ability to work. They found that 85% of participants in the study maintained their working capacity. However, “the majority admitted having worked at a slow pace and having difficulties in meeting all work commitments.”

If you or a loved one suffer from inflammatory bowel syndrome, you may be eligible for benefits. However, the best way to get the most benefits you deserve is legal assistance filing your claim. Consider speaking to an experienced disability attorney or advocate. They’ll help you determine whether or not you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. They can also help you obtain the medical documentation required to support your claim.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now:

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Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.