Can I Get Disability for Diverticulitis?
Chronic diverticulitis can be debilitating, but not everyone with this disease may qualify for long-term disability benefits. If you are wondering, "can I get disability for diverticulitis?" The short answer is yes, but it depends.
What Is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis attacks the digestive system and is caused by the formation of small pouches called diverticula along the intestinal walls. When these pockets become inflamed or infected they can result in severe abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating, as well as fever, nausea, and vomiting. The severity of diverticulitis can range from an acute occurrence to a chronic condition. Doctors are unsure of the precise cause of the disease, but many believe low-fiber diets may be partly to blame.
If you suspect you have diverticulitis, see your doctor immediately. If the condition is left untreated it can cause bowel obstructions, an infection of the abdominal lining called peritonitis, abscesses, severe blood loss, or sepsis. In very severe cases of diverticulitis, surgery may be performed to remove damaged tissue and replace it with a bag to collect waste through an abdominal opening.
Initially, your physician will do an in-office examination to look for possible causes of your symptoms. Typically, he or she will order blood tests which can indicate the presence of an infection and to eliminate other digestive disorders. The tests may include the following:
- CT scans of the abdomen
- X-rays of the abdomen
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may avoid any invasive tests, such as a colonoscopy to avoid damaging the intestines. In these cases, a CT scan is typically used.
Treatments for Diverticulitis
If an infection is present, antibiotics are the primary treatment. If the condition is severe, however, it may be necessary to administer IV fluids or even blood transfusions. Some people are able to improve the symptoms of diverticulitis by changing their diets. High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains may prevent diverticulitis or prevent flare-ups.
If you experience an attack of diverticulitis, eating bland foods such as broth, bananas, and cooked fruit can help reduce the symptoms.
Qualifying for Benefits: Can I Get Disability for Diverticulitis?
Most insurance companies consider you to be disabled if you:
- Are unable to carry out the duties of their current jobs or
- Are unable to do the work at any job
Diverticulitis does not result in disability for everyone. Once symptoms are under control, many people can return to work. However, there are people whose symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from returning to work. An individual with chronic, severe symptoms person has a better chance of receiving long-term disability benefits.
What You Need to File a Disability Claim for Diverticulitis
When you file a claim, your insurance company will be looking for some or all of the following:
- Results of CT scans or other imaging devices
- A draining abscess or fistula
- Significant, unintended weight loss
- The need for a feeding tube
- Severe cramps that are not relieved by medication
- Bowel obstructions that require hospitalization (at least twice in six months)
- Chronic anemia
The insurance company will want all your medical records, test results, or treatments from any doctors who you have seen for diverticulitis. Medical records should contain all notes from examinations, proof of your diagnosis as well as a list of on-going symptoms. Be sure to specify how each symptom prevents you from doing your job.
You will take a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment which will indicate what work you can perform and if there are any restrictions you must observe in light of your condition. The insurance company will use the RFC to determine if you can return to work in your current occupation or in any other job.
For example, frequent bathroom breaks may cause problems if you have a job where you are part of an ongoing process — assembling, processing time-sensitive paperwork, etc. If you experience periods of weakness, your ability to operate machinery may be impaired.
Filing Complete Claims and Adhering to Deadlines
Filing for long-term disability benefits can be a time-consuming process and it's therefore easy to lose track of deadlines or run into snags with paperwork. Claims that are incomplete cause delays and missing a deadline could result in denial of your claim.