Do You Have A Case?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common condition that gastroenterologists will diagnose. It can also be referred to as Irritable Colon, Spastic Colitis, Mucous Colitis, or Spastic Colon. If you are living with IBS, then you understand the pain and difficulty that this condition can cause. IBS can be severe enough for some individuals to be debilitating.

Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome a Disability?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be considered a disability, in the event that your symptoms appear frequently or severely enough. If your IBS symptoms hinder your ability to work, you may be able to qualify for long-term disability insurance. An IBS diagnosis is not enough to convince an insurance company that it is debilitating. Rather, you will have to prove how your IBS limits your ability to perform at your job.

What are the Disabling Symptoms of IBS?

IBS can cause uncomfortable and distressing flare-ups where the individual suffers from symptoms. These flare-ups generally last 2-4 days at a time but can be longer. This generally depends on the severity of one’s condition. Common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:

  • Stomach pains and cramping
  • Excess gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen Abdomen
  • Mucus in stools

Additionally, IBS can manifest symptoms in other areas of the body. These are less common but can contribute to the disabling nature of your condition. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Emotional Distresses of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In addition to the physical symptoms of your IBS, you may be living with emotional distress because of your condition. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be a stressful and sometimes embarrassing condition. It can lead to awkward situations and bathroom emergencies that can be emotionally draining. Some individuals report anxiety and depression caused by living with their condition. If you develop emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression because of your IBS, this can contribute to your insurance claim.

However, you will need to prove that these symptoms are secondary to your IBS. Otherwise, the insurance company may try to dismiss your physical symptoms as a product of mental illness, rather than a physical condition.

However, you will need to prove that these symptoms are secondary to your IBS. Otherwise, the insurance company may try to dismiss your physical symptoms as a product of mental illness, rather than a physical condition.

Can IBS Limit My Ability To Work?

If your IBS symptoms are severe or frequent enough, it could limit your ability to work enough to be disabling. Generally, the long-term disability insurance company will not understand the full impact of your condition on your ability to perform at work. Because of this, your claim will have to show how each of your symptoms can limit your job performance.

Examples of how your IBS could impact your job can vary greatly. For one, frequent bowel movements in the morning could affect your ability to get to work on time. You may also have to leave your desk or important meetings frequently to use the bathroom, which could hinder your work. Productivity reduction can have a major impact on your job performance.

The mental health effects of your IBS can also hinder your job performance. Developing anxiety or depression as a result of your condition can add more stress to an already stressful job.

IBS concept - woman with Irritable Bowel Syndrome holding her lower abdominal. Overlay of the digestive tract over image.

How Can I Prove My IBS is a Disability?

To prove your Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disability, you will have to compile evidence that supports your diagnosis, symptoms, and how it affects your job. Your disability attorney will help you prepare and collect this evidence to create a strong claim for the insurance company. Developing your long-term disability claim requires strong and objective evidence of how your condition affects your life and your career.

Providing Proof of Your IBS Diagnosis

Building your case starts with a proper diagnosis of your condition. However, IBS can mimic other digestive disorder symptoms. Because of this, it can be important to get a proper diagnosis. Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnoses can often be delayed because the individual is embarrassed to discuss it with their physician. While there is no specific test to diagnose IBS, your doctor will likely ask a series of questions to help rule out other possible conditions. Generally, these questions will look into your bowel movement history, family history of bowel issues, abdominal discomfort, eating habits, and more. Additionally, your doctor may ask about the medications you are taking, as some may have side effects that lead to IBS.

Ruling out Other Conditions

Another way your doctor can come to a proper conclusion about your IBS is to rule out other conditions. While IBS doesn’t have a clear testing process, many other bowel conditions do. Blood tests, for example, can rule out lactose intolerance, celiac disease, or bacterial issues. Stool tests may help rule out bowel infections or nutritional absorption issues. A colonoscopy can rule out cancers or inflammatory bowel disease. A CT scan or X-ray can rule out blockages or cancerous growths. Lastly, a flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that looks for polyps and ulcers. By ruling out some or all of these other conditions, your doctor can make a more informed diagnosis of your condition.

A Doctor’s Note is Important To Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome Claim

A doctor’s support of your IBS diagnosis is key to building your case. Your doctor can provide a letter detailing the symptoms of your IBS, along with a description of how your symptoms impact your ability to work. They can also mention the frequency and severity of your condition. The doctor should also mention any tests that were performed to help narrow the diagnosis and rule out other conditions.

Receiving Appropriate Treatment for Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When filing a long-term disability claim, the insurance company will want proof that you are receiving appropriate care for your symptoms. Otherwise, the insurance company may deny your claim on grounds of non-compliance or lack of appropriate care. Because there is no real cure for IBS, your “appropriate treatment” involves the management and reduction of your symptoms. Additionally, the insurance company will likely require proof of ongoing treatment in order for your claim to continue being valid after approval. Usual treatment methods for IBS involve diet management, anxiety & stress reduction, and medications.

Dieting to reduce IBS symptoms generally means avoiding certain foods that may worsen your IBS. This includes alcohol, dairy products, and chocolate. Your doctor or nutritionist can help you develop a dietary plan that helps reduce triggering symptoms. Dietary changes may also include an increase in fiber. Dieting is not a complete solution to your IBS, but it may help reduce emergency situations and limit the number of episodes you have per day.

Stress or anxiety reduction treatments could potentially help you develop strategies for coping with stressful situations. This may include avoiding stressful environments or seeking mental health counseling.

Some medications may be helpful in reducing or managing your Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Some medications that could help include antispasmodics (reduce cramping), laxatives (for constipation management), and tricyclic antidepressants (can help with mental symptoms as well as abdominal pain). Your doctor can help you determine which medications might be right for you.

Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

If you are looking to file a long-term disability claim for your IBS condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome 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.