Is Crohn’s Disease a Disability?

by | Oct 25, 2023 | IBD, News | 0 comments

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect the digestive tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus.  Crohn’s disease can also occur in multiple areas throughout the digestive tract and leave someone with many uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Can this classify Crohn’s Disease as a disability? Keep reading to find out!

Due to the debilitating symptoms some individuals experience, it can make it difficult to carry out daily tasks, let alone being able to properly function at work. 

It estimated that 1 in 100 Americans have IBD where both men and women are equally affected by this disease according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.  When a person is diagnosed with a chronic condition like Crohn’s disease, it can negatively impact their life since the disease itself can be debilitating, painful, and unpredictable. 

Many people suffer from Crohn’s disease.  For this reason, we want to dedicate today’s post on whether or not Crohn’s disease is considered a disability.  

Is Crohn’s Disease a Disability?

Having IBD, whether it be Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, will both be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  When a condition like IBD is in remission or comes and goes like in flare-ups, it would be considered a disability.  Having Crohn’s disease can be a long term disability.   

When a person has Crohn’s disease, their lifestyle can be unpredictable at times.  Putting this into perspective from a workplace standpoint, a person with IBD may request for accommodations such as having their desk near a restroom to limit distractions in the office.  

There are certain times when a person’s Crohn’s disease can be at a “good place” or in remission to where it doesn’t affect the person’s quality of life and/or work life.  In the event their IBD is starting to act up or come out of remission, this can create challenges for the person.  

Symptoms like pain, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, and others can disrupt everyday life.  Read here for more information on IBD fatigue.

There are other digestive disorders that can also be considered a disability.  IBS for example is not fully considered as a disability; however, there is a chance to receive benefits if the case and application are presented accurately.  While IBD and IBS can sometimes present itself in similar ways, they are two very different conditions.  Consider reading more on IBS vs IBD.

Medical treatments for Crohn’s disease can also be costly and can therefore affect a person’s access to medications needed to combat the disease.  This can make it extremely challenging for the person struggling with their IBD. 

Fortunately, there are ways where IBD patients can receive support and benefits based on a certain criteria.  Continue reading on to learn more about these benefits and resources to turn to.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease 

Since Crohn’s disease is considered a disability, it can allow a person to receive benefits.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency that provides Social Security and other programs like benefits in relation to a person’s disability. 

The SSA acknowledges Crohn’s disease and other digestive disorders as a disability.  When a person with Crohn’s disease is having difficulties with performing work tasks because of their illness, they can receive monthly benefits.

The SSA qualifies a person with Crohn’s to have a disability and receive monthly benefits if there has been an obstruction at least twice for more than 2-months or longer.  

Having anemia, involuntary weight loss, abdominal pain, and/or cramping continuously can also make a person with Crohn’s disease eligible to receive benefits. Two to three of these symptoms can make a person eligible. 

If a person with Crohn’s disease receives disability, it is estimated that they can receive roughly $1,444.74 per month with a max amount of $3,627.  Benefits can vary depending on the program that has been approved.   

There is a specific SSA criteria that needs to be met prior to receiving disability benefits.  The criteria is very detailed and can be reviewed by clicking here.

How to Get Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease

If your IBD meets criteria then it would be a good idea to apply for benefits. There are two different programs that are available for people with a disability including the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Both programs can be approved in certain situations. 

Before applying for benefits, be sure to gather all of your documentation and proof of your Crohn’s disease.  These documents should include proof of your diagnosis, prescriptions from your doctor, clinical/charting notes from your GI and dietitian, blood work, and other important documents that can prove your diagnosis. 

Once all of your documents are gathered, apply for benefits.  Remember that you may be denied the first time around but that doesn’t mean you should stop applying.   

Step 1: Apply by phone, online, or at a local SSA office

Step 2: Provide important documents to prove your diagnosis

Step 3: Provide your most recent W-2 forms, bank statements, insurance policies, financial records

Step 4: Provide proof of U.S. citizenship or other certifications including birth certificate

What about Disability Benefits in Canada?

There are many similarities in the steps to apply for disability for Crohn’s Disease in Canada. 

Programs to look up in Canada are the Canadian Pension Plan Disability Benefit, and Provincial Disability Benefits. 

Forms can be completed online through My Service Canada or printed and mailed to a Service Canada office when applying for the CPP Disability Benefit. Your doctor will need to complete form ISP-259, and the patient will complete form ISP-1151. Both can be found here.

Depending on the province or territory you reside in, there may be benefits to apply for too. The Government of Canada’s Benefit Finder can help determine what someone may be eligible for. 

Accessible Parking Permits for IBD

If you are struggling with mobility difficulties because of your IBD, consider applying for an accessible parking permit. Each state and province has forms available on provincial government websites or can be found at your local DMV. Note: there is a section the patient fills out one section, and a section a registered healthcare provider must complete. Don’t forget to bring the application form to your next doctor’s appointment.

Apps to Download for IBD

GoHere: Washroom Locator – available in Canada – helps the user locate bathrooms nearby to limit anxiety and accidents

Bathroom Scout – available in USA – find access to bathrooms in the states

My IBD Manager from the American Gastroenterological Association – track symptoms, keep a food diary, and more

Key Takeaways

Having Crohn’s disease is a disability where a person in need can receive financial benefit.  While it can be possible to be turned down after applying for the first time, continue to reapply as this can increase your chances of receiving benefits..

Consider contacting the SSA’s services at 1-800-772-1213 to receive more information in America or to contact Service Canada, call 1-800-277-9914. 

If you are struggling with Crohn’s Disease symptoms and are looking for further support on how to decrease them, our inbox is always open. Send us a message to learn more about how the Crohn’s and Colitis Dietitians can help with symptom management. 

Ashley and Leah, talk with an IBD dietitian today

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