Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits When You Have Short Bowel Syndrome

by Deanna Power
blue book for short bowel syndrome

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) can be a completely debilitating condition, affecting thousands of families every year. If you have short bowel syndrome and are no longer able to work, Social Security disability benefits may be available for you and your family.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for people in need who are unable to work and earn gainful income. Depending on how severely SBS impacts your life, you may be eligible for aid.


Medical Qualifications for SBS

The SSA contains a medical guide known as the Blue Book, which is used to evaluate Social Security disability applicants and award benefits accordingly. The Blue Book contains all test results and medical history needed to qualify for your unique condition.

SBS is listed in the Blue Book under Section 5.07. Under this listing, you will only qualify if you’ve had more than 1/2 of your small intestine removed, and you depend on daily nutrition via a catheter.

Discuss your surgical history with your doctor to determine if your condition qualifies under this listing.


Other Ways to Qualify for Social Security Benefits


If you’ve had less than 1/2 of your small intestine removed, it’s still possible to qualify. You may be able to “meet” another listing in the Blue Book if your symptoms are similar to other qualifying conditions. Some other ways to qualify include, but may not be limited to:

  • Weight loss caused by SBS requiring frequent hospitalization (at least once per month), which cannot be controlled by diet modification and taking medication
  • An inability to walk due to fatigue from SBS. If you require the use of two crutches, a wheelchair, or a walker, you’ll automatically medically qualify for Social Security benefits.
  • Fainting periods that happen once per week despite at least three months’ medication—This is the epilepsy listing, but you could still qualify with SBS if your symptoms are similar.


Because the entire Blue Book is available online, you can review the listings with your doctor to see where you may qualify.


Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for Social Security disability benefits is online. You can save your progress for later and complete the application at a time that is convenient for you.

If you’d prefer, you can also apply at your local Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 SSA offices across the country. To schedule an appointment with your closest Social Security office, call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

Once approved, you can spend your benefits on your healthcare costs, transportation, childcare, food and other expenses, or any other daily living needs.


This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org or by contacting them at [email protected].

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