Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder afflicting millions of Americans, with approximately 200,000 cases diagnosed each year.

Fortunately, most people can control IBS with OTC medication and modifications of their lifestyle. However, for some sufferers, the symptoms may become so severe that they’re unable to work or carry on normal daily activities.

This begs the question: Is someone suffering from IBS able to secure social security disability benefits? The short-term answer is yes, but to do so, a claimant must provide evidence of how their condition affects their daily life and ability to work.


Before we break down the evidence needed to secure supplemental security income (SSI) or social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to understand the symptoms of IBS. Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea, and it tends to affect women more than men.

Wooden tiles with the letters I, B, and S are visible.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is another common gastrointestinal disorder, and because IBD and IBS share some common symptoms – abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and loss of appetite – people often confuse them, but they’re not the same.

IBD, in contrast to IBS, is classified as a structural disease, meaning that physical damage to the body causes the symptoms that patients suffer. In contrast, the exact cause of IBS has never been determined, although stress, poor nerve signaling between the brain and the intestines, and gastroenteritis (a severe infection of the intestinal tract) are all considered possible contributing causes.

In addition, IBD refers to two different chronic conditions or diseases that may be related. These are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both of these diseases consist of inflammation and swelling of the intestinal tract, along with the possible development of ulcers.

IBS and Social Security Disability

Is irritable bowel syndrome a disability that qualifies you for Social Security benefits? Unfortunately, the issue is complicated, and the best answer we can provide to this question is that you may qualify for disability benefits, but there are serious challenges to overcome.

Digestive disorders considered to be disabilities by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are listed in Section 5.06 of the Social Security Blue Book. In addition to IBD (but not IBS), other gastrointestinal disorders considered as disabilities include:

  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Hepatic (liver) dysfunction
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Malnutrition

Assistance is Still a Possibly

IBS is not one of the listed gastrointestinal disabilities. Even so, you still may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you can show that your IBS symptoms equal those of one of the listed disabilities and as a consequence, your symptoms prevent you from working.

5 steps to Secure Disability

Simplifying a complicated process, you will have to go through what amounts to a five-step process to demonstrate your inability to work because you have IBS.

  • Step 1 – In this initial step, your current work status is determined. If you are now gainfully employed, your claim will be denied.
  • Steps 2 and 3 – In these steps, the severity of your medical condition is carefully scrutinized.
  • Step 4 – In this step, the SSA considers your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine if you can perform your past work. If it is proven that you are capable of working with this condition, your claim will be denied.
  • Step 5 – In this final step, the SSA assesses your RFC to determine if you’re still able to do other work, even if you’re no longer able to perform your previous work. If it is determined that you cannot perform a different type of work, the SSA will define you as disabled and entitled to benefits.

An Essential – Accurate and Complete Medical Records

Throughout this process, it is essential to keep complete and accurate medical records, including lab reports, x-rays, and CAT scans, among others, along with reports from your physician describing your long-term outlook, and medical evidence of any side effects suffered during your treatment.

Patrick Kelly: The Social Security Disability Lawyer Of The Bay Area

Securing disability benefits for his clients is the specialty of attorney Patrick Kelly. During his practice as a disability benefits attorney in Oakland and surrounding areas in northern California dating back to 1976. The Law Office of Patrick Kelly has helped thousands acquire the benefits they rightfully deserve through the expertise of our SSI and SSDI attorney in Oakland, California.

When you contact our office, you will receive a free consultation which does not require you to provide any “up front” money. When we begin pursuing your disability claim or the appeals process, there are no hourly fees for the legal services provided.

Social Security Disability Attorney Patrick Kelly is on your side, and if you think you may qualify for IBS disability, contact our firm today for an initial case assessment. Allow our law firm to go to work for you and help you secure the financial assistance you need and deserve.

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