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Ulcerative colitis is a bowel disease that causes ulcers in the large intestine and also the colon. These ulcers or sores cause thickening and scarring of the colon. Because the colon is damaged it cannot properly absorb water. Also, it cannot absorb electrolytes from the food passing through the organ as stool. Additionally, the ulcers produce pus and mucous which cause abdominal pain and the need to frequently go to the bathroom.

Men and women both get ulcerative colitis equally. Also, it can effect people of any racial group. A recent study found significant differences in ulcerative colitis among different racial groups. White people have a rate of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that is 7 times higher than Black people. Also, White people are 6 times higher than Hispanics and 21 times higher than Asian Americans, to have the disease. IBS includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

If you have a first degree relative with the disease, then your risk of developing ulcerative colitis is between 2 percent and 30 percent. The National Institute of Health estimates there are 1 million people in the US with ulcerative colitis.

People with ulcerative colitis experience serious medical problems. For example, the disease can cause colon rupture, colon cancer, fistulas, and anal abscesses. It is similar to the related intestinal disorder Crohn’s disease. Severe symptoms of colitis can significantly interfere with your activities of daily living and ability to work. If you cannot work, then you should file an application for SSD benefits.

Ulcerative Colitis disease term, a long term condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed


The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known. However, it could be the result of several factors. These factors include an abnormal immune response, genetics, and environmental factors.

Research suggests that ulcerative colitis could be triggered by an interaction between a virus or bacterial infection in the colon. A normal immune response would cause temporary inflammation to fight an infection. The inflammation would then go away once the infection is gone.

However, in people who have ulcerative colitis, the inflammation lasts long after the immune system is done fighting the infection. The body continues to send white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, which causes ulcers.


Ulcerative colitis causes the immune system to attack the tissue in your rectum or colon. The main symptom of the disease is bloody diarrhea. This is accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping, creating discomfort and pain. You may also experience urgency in bowel movements. Unfortunately, this can lead to not making it to the bathroom in time. Also, you will experience fatigue and possibly weight loss.

Additional symptoms can include fever, nausea, and loss of appetite. Managing the disease involves a treatment program. You will need to take medication and adjust your diet to help your symptoms. The symptoms of the disease can be hard to control. Therefore, you must follow your treatment plan.


The treatment for ulcerative colitis centers around controlling inflammation. The goal is to ease your symptoms and heal your gut. Medications are the main way to do this. Drugs lessen inflammation in the colon and keep the disease under control. Steroids might be given to you to quickly reduce inflammation. But steroids are not usually used for a long time because of negative side-effects.

Besides medication, making changes in your lifestyle can also help. This might involve changing your diet. For example, avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. Or, try to eat foods that are easier on your stomach. Finding ways to manage stress is also helpful. For example, do relaxation exercises or talk with a therapist.

Surgery is also a treatment. About 1 in 5 ulcerative colitis patients require total colectomy. This is the surgical removal of the colon and rectum. Then, the lower end of the small intestine is made into a pouch that serves as a rectum. For most people, the surgery is successful in managing their symptoms.


When you file an application for SSD benefits, the SSA will use their listing of medical conditions or the Blue Book. They will use listing 5.06 and compare it to your medical records. In order to meet this listing, you must have medical records that document all of the symptoms in the listing.

5.06  Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) documented by endoscopy, biopsy, appropriate medically acceptable imaging, or operative findings with:

A. Obstruction of stenotic areas (not adhesions) in the small intestine or colon with proximal dilatation, confirmed by appropriate medically acceptable imaging or in surgery, requiring hospitalization for intestinal decompression or for surgery, and occurring on at least two occasions at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.


B. Two of the following despite continuing treatment as prescribed and occurring within the same consecutive 6-month period:

1. Anemia with hemoglobin of less than 10.0 g/dL, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or

2. Serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or

3. Clinically documented tender abdominal mass palpable on physical examination with abdominal pain or cramping that is not completely controlled by prescribed narcotic medication, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or

4. Perineal disease with a draining abscess or fistula, with pain that is not completely controlled by prescribed narcotic medication, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or

5. Involuntary weight loss of at least 10 percent from baseline, as computed in pounds, kilograms, or BMI, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart; or

6. Need for supplemental daily enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy or daily parenteral nutrition via a central line.


If ulcerative colitis has caused you to lose a significant amount of weight, then you may qualify for benefits under listing 5.08 for weight loss. Your medical records will need to show that you have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 17.5 on two occasions at least 60 days apart within a consecutive twelve month period. Simply testifying in court that you lost weight due to your disease will not help you meet this listing. Your medical records must show your weight loss. Have your doctor document your weight when you visit the doctor.


The SSA listing is about ulcerative colitis in its most severe form. For example, the listing talks about weight loss of 10% of your body weight over a two month period, despite treatment. But it also includes 6 months of severe Crohn’s disease symptoms. These are the kind of symptoms that, despite medical treatment, would prevent you from working at a job for 40 hours a week.

For example, people who don’t have Crohn’s disease do not understand that you need to take extra bathroom breaks during the work day. While some employers can give you those extra breaks, other employers cannot.

Much of your ability to work will depend upon your job. If you have a desk job, then perhaps your employer will allow those extra breaks. However, if you work in a factory, then chances are you cannot take extra breaks during work day.

If you have ulcerative colitis, but your symptoms do not meet or equal listing 5.06, then it is still possible to win benefits. You can win by proving you cannot perform your past work or any other work.

You can prove your condition prevents you from working by having your doctor complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form.  The medical opinion of your treating doctor matters to the SSA. Find out more about how your RFC can prove to the SSA that you cannot work.


If you have ulcerative colitis, then there are two types of benefits you can file for under the Social Security program:  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to receive benefits, you must first file an application. You can do this online at Social Security’s website. Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for if you have SBS:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and paid into the SSD system. To apply, you must be no longer able work due to a severe medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. Learn more about work credits and SSD benefits. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits at the time you apply, then you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will be the factor in whether you can receive SSI benefits. You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your ulcerative colitis, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.


If you have ulcerative colitis, then you need help to apply for Social Security benefits. You can call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits on Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.


We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.

It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This means if we win, then you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, then you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit.

Also, there is a fee cap set at $7200 by the SSA. You never pay more than the fee cap set by the SSA. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the fee cap and 25% of your back benefit. Learn more about attorney fees in SSD claims.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your cost.

You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. Those costs include paying the doctor or copy service for your medical records. Records usually cost less than $100. However, your attorney fees come from your back benefit. But, you only pay an attorney fee if we win your case.


At our law firm, we help you apply for SSD benefits if you cannot work due to ulcerative colitis. However, you need to be unable to work for one year or more in order to win SSD benefits.

Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court.  If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court and represent you not matter where you live.

Not only do we attempt to win your ongoing benefits, we also try to win your past due Social Security benefits. When you file your application, the appeal process can take so long that you will be due back benefits. Also, if you have previous applications, you might be able to win past due benefits on those prior applications. Learn more about past due benefits.

Also, we bring over 30 years of legal experience to your SSD and SSI case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been helping clients win SSA hearings for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases for our clients. You can trust we will do everything we can to win your SSDI and SSI benefits.

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