Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects approximately 3 million adults in the U.S., according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. This disease, for which there is no cure, causes inflammation and ulcers, or sores, in a person’s digestive tract.
Although there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups, some patients may require surgery that may permanently change bodily functions.
The results of this surgery and change can qualify you for Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI.
Keep reading to learn about ulcerative colitis, the scenarios that may qualify for SSDI, and the requirements needed to qualify.
Symptoms and Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis
Key symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Rectal pain
- Rectal bleeding, passing a small amount of blood with stool
- Urgency to defecate
- Inability to defecate despite urgency
- Weight loss
- In children – failure to grow
Although there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, there are many treatments doctors use to help manage a patient’s symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Some patients find great success with diet changes, anti-inflammatory medications, and alternative therapies.
In certain people, however, ulcerative colitis can become so debilitating that the best course of action is surgery.
Ileostomy and Colostomy Procedures for Ulcerative Colitis
In cases where surgery is necessary to treat ulcerative colitis, some patients need what’s called an ileostomy or a colostomy procedure. These procedures are ostomy procedures that change the way waste products leave the body.
During an ileostomy surgery, a surgeon creates a temporary or permanent opening (a stoma) and forms a pathway from the lowest part of the small intestine (ileum) to the outside of the abdomen. This helps solid waste and gas exit the body without passing through the colon or rectum. The drainage is collected in an ostomy pouch that sticks to the skin around the stoma.
A colostomy is a similar procedure that connects a portion of the colon – instead of the small intestine – to the surface of the abdomen, creating a stoma. In this scenario, a colostomy pouch is used for regular drainage of bodily waste products.
Ostomy and colostomy pouches are worn at all times and must be emptied 5 to 8 times a day. They must also be meticulously cared for and changed regularly to avoid complications.
Because of the invasive nature of ileostomy and colostomy procedures, it can be difficult to continue working in certain professions when you’re using an ileostomy or colostomy pouch. Some sufferers qualify for Social Security Disability Income.
How to Qualify for SSDI for This Type of Ulcerative Colitis
According to the Social Security Blue Book, the Social Security Administration’s list of disabling impairments, inflammatory bowel disease – including ulcerative colitis – can qualify a person for SSDI income.
There are specific guidelines to be met, however.
The Blue Book states:
Surgical diversion of the intestinal tract, including ileostomy and colostomy, does not preclude gainful activity if you are able to maintain adequate nutrition and function of the stoma. However, if you are not able to maintain adequate nutrition, we will evaluate your impairment under 5.08.
In general, the diagnostic criteria that must be met to qualify for SSDI benefits for ulcerative colitis include:
- Obstruction of the small intestine or colon that is diagnosed via appropriate imaging techniques or surgery which requires hospitalization on at least 2 occasions at least 60 days apart within a 6-month period, or
- At least 2 of the following symptoms, which occur despite patient compliance with prescribed treatment, happening within the same 6-month period
- Anemia at a pre-determined level of severity
- Low level of Serum Albumen (A protein in the blood)
- A mass in the abdomen that causes pain or cramping that is not completely controlled through prescribed medications, present at least two times, at least 60 days apart
- Disease of the pelvic floor with a draining abscess or fistula, with pain that does not respond to prescribed narcotic pain medications, at least two occasions at least 60 days apart
- Unintended weight loss of at least 10% from baseline, present on two occasions at least 60 days apart
- Need for a feeding tube to maintain proper nutrition
Reach Out to Me for Help with Your Case
If you suffer from ulcerative colitis and use a stoma either through an ileostomy or colostomy procedure, I can help you determine if you’re eligible for SSDI benefits and handle the application process. This type of procedure changes your way of life immensely, and you may not be able to continue working as a result. I’d love to help you secure the disability benefits you need and are entitled to so you can maintain your quality of life.
Call me anytime (703) 241-2625 at or request a free consultation to discuss your case.