Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) isn’t usually severe enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but it is possible if your condition is so severe that it keeps you from being able to work. In 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) awarded disability benefits to 127,272 workers who had similar digestive disorders.
To help you understand whether your IBS qualifies, we’ll break down how the SSA evaluates IBS symptoms and what you can do to apply for monthly benefits.
Is IBS a disability?
IBS can qualify as a disability if it’s severe enough to interfere with your ability to work. The SSA’s directory of disabilities (the Blue Book) doesn’t include IBS so you will have a harder time proving that you meet the strict medical requirements. However, it is still possible for your condition to qualify as a disability under SSA rules.
Symptoms of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome often isn’t severe enough to qualify for disability benefits, but symptoms of IBS that you may experience if your condition qualifies include abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, and difficulty controlling your bowel movements. Ultimately, the SSA will consider all symptoms you experience that make it difficult to hold a job or handle daily tasks on your own.
Common types of IBS
The common types of IBS are defined based on the type of bowel movements you experience:
IBS-C: irritable bowel syndrome with constipation
IBS-D: irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea
IBS-M: mixed-type irritable bowel syndrome
IBS-U: unclassified irritable bowel syndrome
Can you get disability for IBS?
It will be difficult to get Social Security disability for IBS, but it is possible. You’ll have to provide thorough medical evidence that your IBS is severe and impacts your ability to work. Even with strong medical records, qualifying with IBS will be difficult and your best option may be to speak with a disability lawyer. They’ll be able to talk about the odds of approval based on your personal condition.
How to get disability for IBS
If you apply for disability with IBS, the SSA will need documented proof that your condition prevents you from being able to work. Since that proof will be hard to show, below are some questions you should consider before applying. If you answer yes to these questions, your IBS may qualify.
Do you find yourself missing work because of your IBS? Disability benefits are only available if your condition prevents you from working. Perhaps your irregular bowel movements interfere with work-related activities. Maybe you fail to meet deadlines because of your IBS. But if you can manage your IBS enough to work, you won’t qualify for benefits.
Do you have medical records showing severe symptoms? You’ll need a diagnosis from a doctor and a medical history that shows you continue to experience severe symptoms, even though you’ve tried to treat your IBS. If your condition has gotten worse even with treatment, you may stand a better chance of qualifying.
If you think your IBS could qualify and you have documentation to prove it, the next step is to apply for benefits. You can apply even if you’re unsure about your eligibility, but the application is lengthy and may not be worth it if you’re unlikely to win your benefits claim. Here’s what we recommend:
Apply now if:
You’ve been diagnosed with IBS.
Your IBS symptoms — or symptoms from a related condition that is listed in the SSA Blue Book — make it impossible to work.
Consider waiting and applying later if:
You’ve been diagnosed with IBS but the symptoms are mild or treatable.
You’re still working, even if you think your will one day worsen and interfere with your work responsibilities.
Probably don’t apply if:
Your IBS symptoms are difficult to live with but you can still hold a job with them.
You’re working and earning near or above $1,400 per month.
To find out whether or not you qualify before you apply, take our free 2-minute disability quiz. If you do qualify, we’ll connect you with an experienced disability lawyer who can increase your odds of approval.
How much is a disability check for IBS?
The amount of your disability payment depends on your personal work and income history. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the average check is about $1,300 — with a maximum possible payment of about $3,600 in 2023. You generally meet the work requirements for SSDI if you’ve worked and paid taxes for at least five of the past 10 years.
For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is available to low-income people without much work history, the maximum monthly benefit is $914 in 2023. Your exact payment will be $914 minus the value of any other monthly income you have.
What if my IBS doesn’t meet the criteria?
Qualifying for disability is difficult even for people with severe conditions — only 20% of people win their disability claim on their first application. If you think there’s a chance your condition will qualify, fill out our free Social Security disability quiz to get quick feedback on your eligibility. If you don’t think your condition will qualify but your IBS still interferes with your daily life, you may be able to receive certain other resources for people with disabilities.
Many conditions are eligible for disability benefits. See what you qualify for instantly.
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