Gastrointestinal Hemorrhaging and Social Security Disability

Bleeding within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or gastrointestinal hemorrhaging is associated with a number of serious and chronic medical conditions. Bleeding can occur in the upper or lower GI tract and may require hospitalization, surgery, or ongoing medications and other treatments.

Although severe bleeding is more common in the upper GI tract, GI hemorrhaging can be disabling no matter where it occurs. The medical condition that causes your hemorrhaging symptoms or complications may also be a severe impediment to gainful employment.

A GI bleed alone may or may not be enough to get Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, dependent upon your unique circumstances. It is also possible to qualify for benefits because of the underlying condition that causes your GI bleeding.

Medically Qualifying with Gastrointestinal Hemorrhaging

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a manual of impairments known as the Blue Book. Within this manual are listings of recognized disabilities and the medical evidence necessary for supporting a disability claim. The listing for gastrointestinal hemorrhaging appears in Section 5.02 and requires the following in order to qualify for benefits:

  • Your GI bleed is so severe that you must have blood transfusions
  • Blood transfusions are required at least three times within a consecutive six month period
  • AND

  • A duration of at least 30 days between blood transfusions in that six month period

It is important to note that qualifying under this listing entitles you to benefits for a period of only 12 months from the date of your last blood transfusion. At the expiration of that period, the SSA will re-evaluate your medical condition to determine if you are still eligible to receive benefits.

Even if your GI bleeding does not meet the listing in Section 5.02, you may still be able to receive SSD under the listing for the condition that causes your hemorrhaging in the first place. Listings for gastrointestinal disorders and diseases that may result in GI bleeding include:

  • Section 5.05 – Chronic Liver Disease
  • Section 5.06 – Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
  • Section 5.08 – Weight loss and malnutrition, due to any digestive disorder

Each listing in the Blue Book has specific criteria you must meet in your medical records and other documentation in order to receive benefits. There are however, certain key pieces of information that any application for a GI disorder requires:

  • Diagnostic imaging scans results, which may include x-rays, ultrasounds, CAT scans, MRIs, and Rad scans.
  • A thorough clinical history reporting:
    • Onset of symptoms
    • A formal diagnosis
    • Prescribed therapies and their affects
    • Frequency and duration of symptoms

Even in cases where applicants are unable to meet or closely match a Blue Book listing, the SSA may still grant benefits. In order for this to occur, they must complete what is known as a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis. During an RFC evaluation, the SSA looks at your age, education level, work experience, and your everyday abilities, including your ability to complete typical job functions. If the analysis shows you are so limited by your condition that you’re unable to maintain gainful employment, then you’ll receive benefits.

Getting Help with Your Gastrointestinal Hemorrhaging Disability Claim

It is very important that you work closely with your physician to adequately document your illness and its effects on your everyday abilities. You may also want to consider seeking the assistance of a Social Security disability advocate or attorney. They can help you complete your application, collect the required evidence for proving your disability, and argue any appeals that may be necessary.

Additional Resources