Ulcerative colitis can cause severe symptoms that can adversely affect a person’s quality of life and ability to work. Some people with ulcerative colitis complications may be eligible for disability benefits. There are a number of benefits a person with ulcerative colitis can get, including parking permits and Medicare.
In this article, we examine when ulcerative colitis is considered a disability, how people with ulcerative colitis can determine if they are eligible for disability benefit, and how to apply.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) falls under the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) category. People can have IBD with varying degrees of severity. For some people, their condition can qualify as disabling.
Some people can have severe UC symptoms, such as:
- urgent bowel movements
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- persistent diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
These symptoms can affect a person’s quality of life and ability to work or perform everyday tasks.
Learn more about the symptoms of ulcerative colitis here.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the ADA recognizes a person as disabled if they have significant limitations in performing “important life activities.”
Important life activities include:
- perform manual tasks
This can also apply to all major body functions, including the intestines and digestive systems.
If people are able to work with UC, they can request accommodation at work through the ADA. Accommodation can include:
- Moving a desk or workstation closer to a toilet
- flexible working hours so a person can treat symptoms or go to medical appointments
- additional breaks or rest periods
- Option to work from home to manage more severe symptoms
- unpaid or paid leave for hospital treatment
People can potentially continue to work and receive disability benefits if they are eligible.
Individuals with UC may be eligible for government disability benefits such as the Social Security Income Program or the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they meet the Social Security Administration requirements listed in Section 5.06 of the Disability Assessment.
People need proof of A) or B) with medical documents. This can include imaging or findings from surgery, biopsy, or endoscopy.
The result or symptoms in category B) must be available in at least two examinations, with at least 60 days between each examination or test.
Individuals can apply for social security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration website.
Complications of IBD as a Disability
IBD can increase your risk of a rare condition called short bowel syndrome. The Social Security Agency lists short bowel syndrome under Section 5.07 in the Disability Assessment.
People may also be eligible for disability benefits if they experience accidental weight loss due to a digestive disorder. You must have two Body Mass Index (BMI) values less than 17.50 60 days apart.
If people are unable to work for long periods of time because of UC, they may be eligible for long-term disability insurance through their employer. A person either pays into an insurance program privately or their employer pays into a benefit program that pays a percentage of the employee’s salary.
Individuals can qualify for long-term disability insurance if they meet the policy’s definition of being disabled for 90 to 180 days.
The Family and Sick Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Sick Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows unpaid, job-protected leave.
Employees of an insured employer can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical reasons within a period of 12 months. The employees must have worked at their place of work for at least 12 months.
An insured employer is a private employer with at least 50 employees in at least 20 working weeks. It can also include an authority or a primary or secondary school.
People with UC may also need a general sick leave for related surgery, doctor visits, mental health, or other health-related appointments.
Find out what mental health resources a person can access here.
A person with UC may also be eligible for these disability benefits:
- Parking permits: Those with UC may be eligible for disabled parking permits, although the rules vary from state to state. Individuals should speak to their doctor or contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in their state for the exact requirements.
- Tax credits: When people receive disability social security benefits, they may be eligible for tax credits. If people are disabled and work, they may be eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). People can use the EITC website to find out if they are eligible for disability tax credits.
- Pay health bills: People with disability benefits may be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare to help pay health bills. In most states, those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) qualify for Medicaid. Individuals may be eligible for Medicare if they are 65 years of age or older, or have a disability and have been receiving benefits for at least 24 months.
Learn more about Medicare Eligibility here.
Ulcerative colitis can cause severe symptoms that affect a person’s quality of life and ability to work or perform everyday tasks. People may also need financial help to pay for treatments or time off from work to attend health appointments.
People may be eligible for disability benefit if they meet certain criteria, including certain complications from UC or persistent severe symptoms.
People can speak to their doctor about applying for disability benefits or work accommodation, or visit the Social Security Agency website to find out more.
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