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Yes, Diarrhea Can Be Disabling….5 Tips for Winning Crohn’s, Colitis, IBS, and Digestive Disability Claims

Tucker Law Group
July 28, 2016

Yes, you read the title right – diarrhea can be disabling.  People who suffer from chronic or excessive defecating or diarrhea often suffer in silence. And their suffering often prevents them from working. The problem is that disability insurance adjusters and government disability examiners do not believe the disabled person’s symptoms are as bad as they say.

Nobody wants to talk about it, but diarrhea causes severe disability, and can even result in death.

Having to use the bathroom many times each day takes any worker away from their work tasks.  Dealing with the cramping and exhaustion that comes along with diarrhea adds insult to injury.  Someone who suffers from Crohn’s Disease,  Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and other digestive system disability knows how much it impacts their day.  Similarly, some medications cause severe diarrhea symptoms.  An example that our clients with diabetes often describe is horrific liquid-like diarrhea symptoms from the Type II diabetes medication Metformin.  Unfortunately, it is very embarrassing to suffer from disability due to digestive issues, particularly diarrhea.

When untreated or when medicine cannot find a cure, diarrhea not only causes disability, but can also lead to death, typically related to severe dehydration.  It is not a new problem.  Sir Francis Drake died of dysentery in 1596.  On July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson died in part from complications related to severe diarrhea.

So why do disability insurance adjusters ignore, or dare we say, “poo-poo” reports of excessive diarrhea in disability claims?

The answer is because people who suffer from IBS, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, and other bowel dysfunction do not want to talk about the condition.  Often, they do not tell their families or doctors, much less their co-workers, about how severe their condition is.

How Crohn’s, Colitis, IBS and other digestive disorders can be disabling:

There are many ways that frequent toileting prevents people from doing their work.  Here are just some of the things that may be causing disability from work if you suffer from frequent diarrhea and bouts of  constipation:

  • Excessive time away from one’s work station – more than an average employer will tolerate;
  • Exhaustion and fatigue, often needing rest breaks during the day;
  • Cramping and pain leading up to and following a bout of diarrhea of during a bout of constipation.  This cramping is often severe enough to be distracting, impacting concentration and focus;
  • Painful or bloody hemorrhoids which result from excessive toileting and forceful pushing when constipation sets in;
  • Unpredictable symptoms, causing interruptions at times that impact client or co-employee interaction (i.e. during a meeting);
  • Unexpected diarrhea can result in “accidents” which soil one’s clothing.

Any way that a person is kept off task at work can contribute to disability.  Often, diarrhea and constipation are not the only disabling problems someone has.  They may just be pieces of the disability puzzle, but they are important pieces that must be proven to win a disability claim.

5 tips for proving and winning a Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, or other diarrhea disability claim:

Anyone who suffers from frequent diarrhea, but does not talk about their symptoms is truly hurting their disability claim.  Often disability insurance adjusters, as well as Social Security and VA employees, simply refuse to believe that a person’s symptoms are as bad as they report on claim forms.  Why?  Because a person that does not discuss their symptoms with anyone else does not have any other records or witnesses to corroborate the problems they list on their disability claim forms.

There are 5 keys to winning a disability claim based on diarrhea-related symptoms.  The following 5 tips all require you to do two things – document and tell:

  1. Keep a toileting journal which tracks a) how often you go to the bathroom, b) how long you are in the bathroom each time, and c) a description of your symptoms and their severity leading up to, during, and after the toileting event occurs.
  2. Tell your doctors how bad your symptoms are and how often they happen, and tell them about your medication side effects.  Give your doctor a copy of your toileting journal.
  3. Tell your family and friends too.  If asked at some point in the future, they will be able to explain their experiences with you.  Often, eyewitness accounts combined with what you have described to them are very powerful proof of disability.
  4. Take pictures of your stool in the toilet with a time/date stamp on the picture.  Doing this proves that your notes about frequency are accurate and, more importantly, believable.
  5. Set up a tripod and take video when you use the toilet.  Obviously, this is extreme.  But if you want to prove to a disbelieving disability insurance adjuster how long you use the toilet each time you go, there is no better proof than a video which corroborates your toileting journal.

You must find ways to prove that your symptoms are as severe as you say.  A Long Term Disability insurance company, Social Security, or the VA will not take your word for it.  Assume the disability claim handler thinks you are lying.  It is sad that someone would not believe you when you talk about a severe disability like Crohn’s Disease or any diarrhea related disability, but it is a cruel reality in today’s culture that makes people think that disability claimants are frauds.

The bottom line:  you must create proof that you are not lying about your disability and how severe it is.  Use the steps above to prove that your digestive symptoms truly keep you from working.

If you have a disability insurance or other disability claim due to Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, IBS, or have other digestive disability, call our experienced team of disability attorneys at (866) 233-5044 for an analysis of your case.