Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune condition characterized by inflammation of the intestines. Patients with this disease may suffer abdominal pain and have other gastrointestinal problems, as well as mental health issues due to the physical effects of living with ongoing symptoms.

Because Crohn’s disease can be disabling, you may find it difficult to sustain gainful employment if you suffer severe and continuous symptoms. If this happens, the loss of income, lack of medical insurance, and extensive medical bills can be financially disastrous, and you may need to apply for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). And although the SSA’s Blue Book of Impairments lists Crohn’s under section 5.06 of its Digestive System section, it may be helpful to hire a disability lawyer to help you file a claim for benefits.

Understanding Crohn’s Disease

crohn's_diseaseCrohn’s disease can cause a variety of symptoms besides intestinal inflammation, including weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and rectal pain.

But this condition can also cause inflammation outside the digestive tract. Common sites for inflammation are the mouth, skin, joints, liver, bile ducts, and iris of the eye.


Researchers have found a genetic connection with this disease. If a person has a relative who suffers from Crohn’s disease, he or she is 10 times more likely to develop the disease than other people, and 20 times more likely if the relative is a sibling. But while Crohn’s disease may be debilitating, and symptoms can range from mild to severe, most people learn how to cope with the condition through medical treatment that can decrease the pain of those symptoms. Most go on to live a normal life.

Social Security Benefits for Crohn’s Disease

If you want to apply for Social Security (SS) benefits for Crohn’s disease, you must meet the SSA’s requirements listed in the Blue Book. In general, the SSA defines a disability as a disease, illness, or condition that lasts at least a year and keeps you from working at any job. In general, here are the requirements for obtaining disability for Crohn’s disease:

  • Being diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease.
  • Having an obstruction of the colon or small intestine that requires surgery or hospitalization twice in six months, 60 days apart.


  • Two or more problems related to the disease that occur within that six months regardless of treatment. These complications can include anemia, perineal disease, and weight loss.  

Providing the Right Medical Reports

When you apply for SS disability for Crohn’s disease, the SSA needs medical evidence of your condition, including laboratory and clinical reports. This documentation should include:

  • Medically acceptable and appropriate imaging from endoscopies, pathologies, and operations that prove your condition. These images may be X-rays, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, sonograms, and MRIs. The technique used needs to support the diagnosis of your condition.
  • Findings that occur within the appropriate time period as it relates to the SSA’s disability review of your condition.

Medical Vocational Allowance

It’s possible that your Crohn’s disease symptoms don’t meet the requirements listed in the Blue Book. However, you still may be disabled by the condition. If your symptoms prevent you from holding a steady job, you may qualify for benefits under medical vocational allowance.

If, for example, you haven’t been hospitalized two or more times during a sixth-month period, you may still be unable to sustain gainful employment because you suffer from daily, consistent bouts of cramping and pain, and you must spend a considerable amount of time in the bathroom—conditions that are disruptive to your work productivity. If these circumstances make it impossible to work, the SSA may consider this when determining benefit awards under a medical vocational allowance.

To qualify for a medical vocational allowance, the SSA looks at your medical records and determines if there’s evidence that your condition limits your ability to stand, sit, lift or carry objects, or follow instructions. The agency will also look at your past work experience, age, and ability to be retrained for a different type of job.

We Can Help You File for Disability

If you have Crohn’s disease and need disability benefits, hiring a Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help with your application can increase your chances of getting an approved claim. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law for experienced assistance to help you get the financial support you need and deserve. Cuddigan Law also handles SS disability claims for clients whose applications have been denied. Fill out our online form today or call us at(402) 933-5405.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska