Crohn's Disease is a severe inflammation of the bowel tract that can cause a variety of symptoms that interfere with daily life - including work activity. Crohn's can be found in both men and women, and it is believed to run in families, with 20% of people diagnosed with the disease having a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. Although people of all ages can suffer from Crohn's, the disease is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 30. Here, the cause, symptoms and treatments of Crohn's will be discussed in addition to applying for Social Security Disability benefits when Crohn's interferes with one's ability to work.

About Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, therefore leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and possibly malnutrition in severe cases. The inflammation caused by Crohn's disease often spreads deep into the layers of bowel tissue. Crohn's disease can be both painful and debilitating and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. There is no known medical cure for Crohn's disease.

The exact cause of Crohn's disease remains unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected as causes. Today, doctors know that although these factors may aggravate existing Crohn's disease, they do not cause it. Now, researchers believe that a number of factors, such as heredity, specifically mutations in a gene called NOD2, and a malfunctioning immune system unable to fight a virus or bacterium that may cause Crohn's, play a role in the development of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly. Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Diarrhea. Diarrhea is the most common problem for people with Crohn's.

  • Abdominal pain and cramping. Inflammation and ulceration may cause the walls of portions of your bowel to swell and eventually thicken with scar tissue. Blood in your stool.

  • Ulcers.

  • Reduced appetite and weight loss.

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Arthritis

  • Eye inflammation

  • Skin disorders

  • Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts

  • Delayed growth or sexual development, in children

The goal of treatment for Crohn's is to reduce the inflammation that triggers the signs and symptoms. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission. Treatment for Crohn's disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery.

Doctors use several categories of drugs that control inflammation in different ways. But drugs that work well for some people may not work for others, so it may take time to find the appropriate medication for the individual. In addition, because some drugs have serious side effects, the benefits and risks of each treatment will need to be considered. Some of these medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, and antibiotics.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits based on Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is not differentiated by diagnosis in the Social Security Disability Impairment Listings. However, the symptoms and degree to which someone may suffer with the symptoms classified in listing 5.06 Inflammatory Bowel Disease must be considered; therefore, this does not mean that those who suffer from Crohn's disease cannot qualify for social security disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program designed to pay monetary benefits to qualified applicants who have worked long enough and paid their social security taxes. Based on medical evidence, work history, and education history, the Social Security Administration determines whether or not applicants qualify for benefits and how much each applicant can receive.

In cases where Crohn's disease is interfering with one's ability to work, medical evidence and work history are important in assisting Social Security with determining one's monetary claim. The degree to which the symptoms of Crohn's disease, or the side effects of the medications taken to treat the symptoms of Crohn's disease, limit one's ability to work must be clear in the evidence presented in the case. Evidence needs to include medical records, employment records, medication lists, and statements from supervisors and/or co-workers. Once this information is collected, it is presented to the Social Security Administration for consideration in whole for determining a monetary award for benefits.

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