SSD and Digestive Disorders
Think about the last meal or snack you ate today. Did you spend any time wondering what happens to the food inside your body? Probably not. For people with healthy digestive systems, the process of digesting, breaking down, and secreting foods isn’t usually high on the list of things they want to think about. But for people with digestive disorders, this process is something that can consume every aspect of their lives, including their ability to work.
The role of the digestive system is to convert food into energy. To accomplish this, consumed food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, or the GI. The mouth, esophagus, stomach, large and small intestines, rectum, and anus make up the GI. They are all hollow organs, so the food can easily pass through. As the food moves through the GI, digestive juices break it down into smaller molecules. These molecules then move to the bloodstream via the small intestine, where they bring energy to the rest of the body. The rest of the food becomes waste, and is passed through the large intestine and out of the body. The digestive system might not be the prettiest aspect of the human body, but it does do some great things.
Types of Digestive Disorders
When an issue in the digestive system causes this process to go awry, it is called a digestive disorder. Some of the most common digestive disorders include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
Gout and gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD or acid reflux, are also considered conditions of the digestive system. Certain types of cancer also affect the digestive tract, including stomach, colon, and esophageal cancer.
The symptoms of digestive disorders vary. However, many people with digestive disorders experience bloating, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and vomiting, and stomach pain. Some disorders also cause drastic weight loss or gain. Many people with digestive disorders have to make frequent trips to the restroom, especially after eating, and experience considerable pain, discomfort, and embarrassment as a result of their condition.
SSD for Digestive Disorders
When someone suffers from a severe digestive disorder, the pain and disruption could cause them to be unable to work. In these cases, they may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. For a digestive disorder to qualify someone for SSD, the condition must have lasted for 12 months, or be expected to last for 12 months. So, for example, an intestinal infection, which heals with some time and medical treatment, would not be considered a qualifying disorder. Additionally, the disorder must prevent the applicant from doing any work. If adjustments can be made that allow the applicant to work despite their limitations — a personal office restroom or time to rest after eating, for example — they can still do some work, and will not be considered disabled.
There tends to be a lot of stigma around digestive disorders, and that can make people feel ashamed or uncomfortable. However, it’s important to confront how digestive disorders affect the ability to work, and no one should ever feel ashamed to seek help from their employer or an SSD attorney.
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