- Is Crohn’s Disease a Disability?
- Disabling Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease and the Inability to Work
- Doctor’s Support for Your Crohn’s Disease Disability
- Getting Approval for Long-Term Disability with Crohn’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease & Appropriate Treatment
- Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Crohn’s Disease?
Do You Have A Case?
Crohn’s disease can be a difficult condition to manage. It can seriously affect your life, including your ability to work. Frequent bathroom trips can take a toll on productivity. Flare-ups can make commuting difficult. Additionally, frequent pain can be a major distraction. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. This condition can seriously affect your job. But is there anything you can do about it?
Is Crohn’s Disease a Disability?
In some cases, yes, Crohn’s can be considered debilitating enough for it to be a disability. If you are living with Crohn’s disease, you may qualify for long-term disability insurance benefits. However, a diagnosis alone is not usually enough to convince your insurance company. Generally, to qualify, you will have to prove that your condition limits your capacity to work. Because of this, you will likely need to show how your symptoms affect your work. This is usually because of frequent and/or severe they occur.
Because Crohn’s Disease symptoms can often fluctuate, it can be difficult to convince the insurance company that it is debilitating enough to be considered a long-term disability. In order to convince them, you will need a convincing claim application with plenty of evidence. Providing medical documentation and data of your various symptoms can be vital to building your case.
Below, we will discuss what you need to know in order to apply for long-term disability benefits for this condition.
Disabling Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease can affect your small and/or large intestines. It can often involve different segments of your intestines, as well. However, it most commonly affects the colon. For some, this is the only section it affects. The frequency and severity of symptoms will vary case by case. Often, symptoms appear without warning. This is generally referred to as a flare-up. While signs and symptoms for this disease may vary, they most commonly include:
- Abdominal pain/cramps
- Bloody stool
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Anal leakage
- Bowel obstruction
Additional Physical Symptoms
The following symptoms are less common, but can still be a part of living with Crohn’s Disease. Many of these can be debilitating and can be important to discuss with your doctor. Be sure to talk with your doctor about all symptoms you are experiencing.
- Rectal Tenesmus
- Kidney problems, including kidney stones
- Peripheral arthritis
- Inflammation of the skin and eyes
- Liver and bile duct inflammation
- Iron deficiencies
Disabling Cognitive Symptoms
Crohn’s disease can affect more than just your digestive tract. Crohn’s disease has been shown to have cognitive deficits in those with the condition. These cognitive deficits are often brought on by pain, fatigue, and other physical symptoms. If severe enough, your cognitive symptoms can be debilitating themselves. These symptoms should be discussed with your doctor as well.
- Attention deficits
- Problems with concentration and focus
- Decreased processing speed
- Difficulty processing information
- Poor memory
- Poor impulse control
- Difficulties in multitasking
Secondary Emotional Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
When living with Crohn’s disease, you may have a higher risk of developing mental health issues as a result. This condition can be incredibly stressful and can lead to severe emotional distress. As such, it can be important to address your mental health issues with your physician. However, you should also be sure to highlight that these conditions are secondary to your physical and cognitive symptoms. Otherwise, your insurance company may try to classify your condition as a mental health issue. If they do this, your disability insurance benefits may end sooner, due to Mental Illness Limitations. This is a limiting factor that many long-term disability insurance companies use to end benefits for those disabled by their mental health condition after 2 years. Secondary emotional symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include:
- Social isolation
- Panic disorders
- Lower stress tolerance
It is always important to document any and all symptoms you may be experiencing as a part of your medical condition. Discuss with your doctor the severity and frequency, and make sure they keep a record of them. A doctor’s record of your symptoms can be important when filing for long-term disability.
Crohn’s Disease and the Inability to Work
While many people can continue working while living with Crohn’s disease, it can be extremely debilitating if your symptoms are severe or frequent enough. Moderate to severe Crohn’s disease can limit your ability to work. Generally, your insurance claim approval will require you to show objective proof of how your condition impairs your capacity to work in your occupation. As such, you will need to provide specific examples and evidence of how your capacity to work is affected by your Crohn’s disease.
For example, your symptoms may be frequent or severe enough that you are constantly leaving your desk to go to the bathroom. Or, you may end up having a lot of absences and sick days because of your condition. These absences may be due to flare-ups, doctor appointments, or even hospital visits from your condition. Spending a lot of time out of work or in the bathroom can be detrimental to your productivity. Because of that, many people living with Crohn’s disease struggle with job performance reviews.
Doctor’s Support for Your Crohn’s Disease Disability
Generally, your doctor’s support is key to building a solid disability insurance claim. For conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, which can vary greatly in severity, a physician’s statement can be a valuable part of securing approval for your claim. The insurance company can put a lot of weight behind your doctor’s statement. In disability insurance cases for Crohn’s disease, the physician’s statement is one of the most common reasons for the denial. As such, it is important that you have your doctor’s support behind your case. This is often because they are not aware of the full scope of your condition.
One of the best ways to help ensure your doctor’s support is to be upfront about the frequency and severity of your condition. You may feel embarrassed to discuss your condition in this way. However, it is vital to your treatment, and disability insurance claim, that you are truthful about how often you deal with flare-ups and symptoms. Additionally, be sure to discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor, and how they relate to your Crohn’s disease. This includes emotional and mental health conditions that you live with as a result of your illness.
Getting Approval for Long-Term Disability with Crohn’s Disease
Your insurance company will want to see evidence of your disability in order to approve your claim. You will need to provide evidence of your diagnosis, symptoms, and more. Objective medical evidence provides the most support for your claim.
Unfortunately, there is no objective medical test to provide a sufficient diagnosis for Crohn’s disease. However, there are other ways to support your claim. This usually includes a physical examination and a questionnaire from your doctor. These will assess your symptoms to help inform your doctor of your condition.
While a medical examination is a good way for the doctor to gain an understanding of your condition, it may not provide a full diagnosis. As such, you may need to go for laboratory testing to narrow down your diagnosis. Because there is no specific test for Crohn’s, you will likely need to take other lab tests to check for signs of Crohn’s, while ruling out other possible conditions. Additionally, your lab results may be helpful in strengthening your disability claim. These lab tests may include:
- Blood Protein levels
- Red blood cell count
- White blood cell count
- Stool samples
- Blood sedimentation levels
Imaging tests can be very helpful in providing evidence of Crohn’s disease. Images of your colon, small intestine, esophagus, and more can all be helpful in providing your doctors with a better understanding of your condition. Additionally, these photos can prove useful in building your case. If you undergo any imaging tests, it is likely that your insurance company will ask for those records. They can provide objective medical evidence of your symptoms. Imaging tests that can support a Crohn’s diagnosis include:
- Barium X-ray
- CT enterography
- Video capsule endoscopy
- Ultrasound imaging
Generally, the insurance company will not require you to go through all of these tests. Rather, they may want you to go through any recommended by your physician for your condition. Photo evidence that supports your claim can be beneficial to building your long-term disability claim.
Crohn’s Disease & Appropriate Treatment
Insurance companies generally require you to show proof that you are receiving ongoing treatment for your condition. Otherwise, they are not likely going to approve your disability claim. Additionally, they will want to see proof that you are continuing your treatment after you are approved. They may end your benefits if you are not continuing treatment, as “non-compliance” clauses are common. Because there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, treatment includes reducing symptoms and slowing progression. This often includes medication and lifestyle changes. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be recommended by your physician.
Medications prescribed for Crohn’s disease usually treat symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and bowel issues. Because of the effect, this condition has on your digestive tract, you may also need to take supplements. Commonly prescriptions for Crohn’s disease include:
- Calcium, Iron, & Vitamin D supplements
- Pain relievers
- Vitamin B12 shots
Lifestyle Changes for Crohn’s Disease
Life factors can play a role in exacerbating symptoms of Crohn’s. Changes in diet, stress, etc. can help reduce the severity of your condition. As such, your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes to help you deal with your Crohn’s disease. This may include avoiding stressful situations, certain foods, and tobacco products. Good habits like regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a healthy diet can also improve your condition.
Surgical Options for Crohn’s Disease
In the event that your condition is severe enough, your doctor may recommend surgical options to help you mitigate your symptoms. There are 3 main procedures for severe Crohn’s disease. These would be a Bowel Resection, a Strictureplasty, and a Proctolectomy.
A bowel resection, also known as a Colectomy, is a procedure where a section of the intestines is removed and connected on a more direct path. This may be done to bypass certain sections of the bowels or to correct a fistula.
Strictureplasty is a procedure that widens an area of the bowel that has shrunk due to scarring. With Crohn’s disease, scarring is usually caused by blockages.
Lastly, there is the Proctolectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes your colon and rectum. Then, they are replaced with a colostomy, and ileostomy or an internal ileal pouch (J-pouch). This provides you with a new path to pass waste from.
Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Crohn’s Disease?
If you are looking to file a long term disability claim for your condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as Crohn’s Disease file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.
At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.