Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crohn’s’ Disease

Crohn’s disease is one of the conditions that is known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (“IBD”). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the major signs and symptoms of Crohn’s are: persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and constipation. 

It is tough to establish disability for Crohn's, just like other types of IBD, because it does not typically affect a person’s ability to perform strength functions like lifting and carrying weight, or standing and walking. Rather, Crohn’s normally becomes disabling because its symptoms affect non-exertional functions. I represent a 41 year old former library aide who was approved today for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits because of her Crohn’s that illustrates this point. The claimant’s gastroenterologist explained why the claimant’s Crohn’s disease met the listing for IBD. 

The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) inexplicably rejected the listing opinion. However, the ALJ did accept the gastroenterologist’s opinion regarding the functional limitations caused by the Crohn’s, and concluded that those limitations rendered the claimant incapable of work. In particular, the ALJ agreed that the claimant’s need for frequent, unscheduled breaks to rest at unpredictable intervals precluded sustained work. 

Different medical conditions create different functional limitations. Understanding how a medical condition results in work restrictions is essential to securing SSD benefits.

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