The Social Security Administration classifies Crohn’s disease as a disability. A person with Crohn’s disease may be able to claim Social Security disability benefits if their condition means they cannot work.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and discomfort in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is part of a group of conditions called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Crohn’s can cause issues anywhere along the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. It commonly causes issues at the end of the small bowel, called the ileum, and the beginning of the colon.

Symptoms of Crohn’s can make it difficult or impossible to work. This may make it necessary for a person to apply for disability benefits.

This article will examine when Crohn’s disease meets the requirements for a disability, what government disability benefits are available, and how to apply for them.

IBD resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Was this helpful?
a woman sits using a laptop Share on Pinterest
RichVintage/Getty Images

A person who qualifies as having a disability may be eligible to receive either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), depending on their financial situation, their work history, and their Social Security tax payments.

SSDI benefits are available to anyone who is insured, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means they have worked long enough and recently enough, and they have paid sufficient Social Security taxes on the money they earned.

SSI benefits are available to anyone who has limited income or resources and meets one of the following criteria:

  • is over age 65 years
  • is blind
  • has a disability

When an individual is unable to work due to a disability, the money they receive from government disability payments may represent a substantial percentage of their income.

Disability payments are not high. According to the SSA, the SSDI monthly payment a person received in May 2024 was $1,537.64.

If a person received this amount every month for 2024, they would receive $18,451.68 in federal SSDI benefits for the year.

If these disability payments are an individual’s only source of income, that is just a little over the 2024 federal poverty level of $15,060 for a single person.

Crohn’s disease is a disability because it falls within the scope of inflammatory bowel diseases, and IBDs are on the list of conditions that the SSA considers disabilities.

The SSA notes that Crohn’s disease is usually not curable and can affect any portion of the GI tract in a variable pattern. It may also reoccur chronically, even after surgery.

Can you work with Crohn’s?

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract and can vary with each reoccurrence. They can include:

Some symptoms can also be systemic, leading to issues throughout the body. These include:

Symptoms can make working difficult or impossible, depending on the severity and frequency with which they occur.

In the United States, the government classifies Crohn’s disease as a disability. This means individuals with Crohn’s may also be able to receive disability benefits from the SSA.

In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers’ rights. That means that an employee with the condition has the right to ask their employer for reasonable accommodations to meet the needs that allow them to do their job.

Similar laws in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia protect workers and provide disability benefits of some type to people with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is described in the SSA’s Guide to Disability Evaluation under Section 5.00 – Adult.

Under the ADA, digestion is considered a major life activity, and people who have problems with digestion are protected from discrimination in the workplace.

This means that an employee can ask for reasonable accommodations like:

  • enough time for regular restroom breaks
  • a desk closer to the restroom
  • unpaid time off for doctor’s appointments or flare-ups
  • telecommuting or a flexible work schedule
  • an assignment to a different position in the company if the present one is unsustainable

Does Crohn’s qualify for long-term disability?

It is the goal of the SSA to see individuals return to work. If an individual’s Crohn’s disease is severe enough, however, this may not be possible. In this case, the SSA may approve an individual for long-term disability.

The SSA may require regular documentation of ongoing issues related to Crohn’s disease to continue long-term disability payments.

This may include doctors’ notes, scans, or other medical tests on a regular basis to prove that issues are persistent.

Individuals with Crohn’s disease are eligible for the same disability benefits as anyone else with a disability. This includes monetary compensation but may also include other benefits like disabled parking and a tax credit.

Disabled parking

A blue placard that hangs from a rear-view mirror indicates that a car is eligible to park in a disabled parking space. These tags are available to anyone with a disability. According to the SSA’s definition, a person has a disability if they:

  • cannot do work that they did before, due to a medical condition
  • cannot adjust to other work, due to their medical condition
  • have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to result in death

State departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) administer parking tags. To apply for a tag, an individual should contact their local DMV to find out the requirements, such as an application or doctor’s affidavit.

Disability tax credit

While there is no specific disability tax credit, an earned income tax credit (EITC) may be helpful to people with a disability.

The EITC is for people who earn low to moderate incomes, including those whose primary income source comes from disability payments. The credit can lower the amount of tax owed or even lead to a tax refund.

To view eligibility for the EITC, see IRS Publication 596, “What’s New for 2023?”

Complications from Crohn’s disease can make work difficult or impossible. In this case, reaching out to the SSA to discuss disability benefits resources may be the best option.

Individuals can check with their state government office to determine whether they may be able to apply for disability benefits. Some states have disability programs that provide additional income or benefits.

Filing for Social Security disability

To apply for federal government disability benefits through the SSA, a person can visit the SSA website, apply by phone, or apply in person at a local office. They will need:

  • proof of diagnosis such as imaging, tests, endoscopy results, or notes from their doctor
  • laboratory tests done within the past year
  • prescription medications taken for Crohn’s
  • information about doctors they have consulted
  • W-2 forms from the previous year
  • proof of citizenship
  • financial records, bank statements, pay stubs, insurance paperwork, and rent or mortgage paperwork

A person will receive a response through the mail with the SSA’s decision. Individuals have the right to appeal a decision within 60 days, in writing.

Crohn’s disease is an often life altering condition of the GI tract that can severely limit an individual’s ability to maintain a consistent work schedule. Due to this, they may qualify for disability benefits.

The SSA administers disability payments that disburse benefits on a monthly basis. They are modest amounts and may be the only income for someone who cannot otherwise work due to Crohn’s.

In addition to monetary payments, people with Crohn’s may also qualify for additional benefits like disabled parking and the federal EITC.

To learn more about disability benefits or to apply, visit the SSA’s website.