Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) and Disability Benefits

Short bowel syndrome, also known as SBS, is an oftentimes painful and debilitating condition to live with. It is not uncommon for the disease to interfere with an individual's ability to perform normal day-to-day activities, let alone maintain full-time employment. The resulting lack of income can be devastating both financially and emotionally. It is in cases such as these that Social Security Disability benefits are intended to help. If you are wondering how the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews claims based on short bowel syndrome, the following information will explain the disability claim process and how this condition qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits under the SSA's guidelines.

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) Condition and Symptoms

When an individual suffers from short bowel syndrome, they are not able to properly absorb the nutrients from the foods they eat. This inability to absorb the nutrients is caused by missing areas of the small intestine. The reason for the missing areas can vary and may be the result of birth defects, surgery or disease.

The symptoms of short bowel syndrome can vary from one individual to the next depending on how much of the small intestine is missing and how severe their condition is. Common symptoms of SBS include diarrhea, abdominal pain, pale stools, fatigue, edema of the legs, greasy stools with a foul smell and unexplained weight loss.

A diagnosis of short bowel syndrome can be confirmed through a variety of tests. If a doctor suspects that a patient is suffering from the condition, he or she may perform blood tests, fecal fat tests and x-rays of the small intestine.

Unfortunately there is no cure for short bowel syndrome and treatment will vary depending on the severity of the condition. Oftentimes a special diet will be implemented as will dietary supplements. Doctors may also prescribe medications that can slow the movement of food through the intestine, allowing for more absorption of the food's nutrients. In severe cases, intravenous tube feeding may be necessary.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

Short bowel syndrome is covered under the SSA's published Blue Book of Medical Listings. This particular condition is addressed under Section 5.07 of the Blue Book. According to the SSA's guidelines for short bowel syndrome, an individual may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if certain conditions are met.

It is important to understand that a diagnosis of short bowel syndrome in and of itself is not enough to qualify an individual for disability benefits from the SSA. Under Section 5.07 of the SSA's Medical Listings, a case of SBS must be due to surgical resection of more than one-half of the small intestine and the applicant must have a dependence on daily parenteral nutrition via central venous catheter.

When completing your Social Security Disability claim, make sure that you have medical records documenting that you meet the criteria of the published listing above. If you do not have enough medical evidence to prove these facts or if your condition does not meet the specific Medical Listing, you may still be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits but your initial claim will likely be denied, resulting in the need for a disability appeal.

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) and Your Social Security Disability Case

If you are suffering from short bowel syndrome and your condition does not meet the guidelines published in the SSA's Medical Listings, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits but you will likely need to pursue the disability appeal process in order to obtain the benefits you need. The best way to do this is with the help of a Social Security Disability attorney.

A disability appeal will normally consist of a Request for Reconsideration and a disability hearing. While the majority of reconsideration requests are denied by the SSA, nearly two-thirds of disability claimants will go on to win their appeal at the hearing stage of the appeal process.

While you are technically allowed to represent yourself throughout the appeal process, it is not in your best interests to do so. Statistics show that your chances of overturning a denied disability claim are significantly higher with proper legal representation. The disability appeal process can be lengthy and complicated. An advocate or attorney can help you understand how to best present your case to the SSA and how to gather the evidence that will be needed to plead your case in court before the administrative law judge.