Can I get Disability Benefits for Acid Reflux Disease?
If you have acid reflux disease you may be wondering if you can get Social Security or long term disability benefits.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
Gastroesophageal reflux disease rarely qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Long Term Disability benefits on its own. In order to qualify for benefits, the applicant must be unable to work. If you are unable to work and have Acid Reflux Disease contact the social security lawyers of Bemis, Roach & Reed at 512-454-4000 for more information.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly known as acid reflux, occurs when the contents of the stomach (particularly stomach acid) are pushed back into the esophagus. In healthy digestion, food enters through the mouth, then is swallowed through the upper esophageal sphincter into the esophagus.
From there, it drops through the esophagus into the stomach via the lower esophageal sphincter. In the stomach, the food is broken down physically into viscous, acidic slush that passes through the intestines which absorb nutrients.
In individuals with acid reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely.
Without a tight seal between the stomach and esophagus, the powerful digestive acid from the stomach can get into the esophagus. Usually this will cause heartburn. Contrary to its name, heartburn is not a heart condition, but the pain caused by digestive acids damaging the tissue in the lower esophagus. Heartburn is not considered serious and is very common. 20% of Americans experience heartburn on a weekly basis. However, if the lower esophagus is repeatedly exposed to acid, it will eventually become inflamed- a condition known as esophagitis.
Generally, over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes are sufficient for managing the symptoms of acid reflux.
Antacids help neutralize the digestive acid and are used for the least severe cases. For the sort of occasional heartburn that most people experience, antacids can offer temporary relief. However, antacids can cause their own digestive side effects (constipation and diarrhea) and may not be adequate for more serious cases.
The popular medications Pepcid, Zantac, and Tagamet are histamine H2-receptor antagonists.
They are similar to H1 antagonists such as Benadryl and can even be used for treating similar conditions. H2 antagonists work by reducing production of stomach acid. Over 50% of people taking H2 antagonists still report heartburn, but at a reduced severity. In serious cases, the medication Metoclopramide may be used to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, though it is not well-understood how it works. Metoclopramide is rarely prescribed because it is a dopamine antagonist and associated with many physical and psychological side effects.
Lifestyle changes are also important for reducing the frequency and severity of acid reflux.
One of the primary risk factors of acid reflux is weight, particularly abdominal weight. People suffering from acid reflux who lose 10% of their weight report reduced frequency of heartburn. Overeating can also contribute to heartburn. Eating smaller meals throughout the day can help reduce symptoms. Spicy, fatty, or acidic foods contribute to heartburn. Smoking, coffee, alcohol and soda can all cause acid reflux. Avoiding food that triggers heart burn, losing weight, and generally living a healthy lifestyle will go a long way towards reducing the symptoms of acid reflux.
In rare, serious cases of acid reflux, surgery may be needed.
Surgery is a last resort as heartburn is usually not serious and the surgery is extremely risky and often ineffective. Despite the whimsical-sounding name, fundoplication surgery can be extremely painful and can takes weeks to recover from. The surgery involves wrapping the fundus (the upper part of the stomach) around the lower esophagus in order to tighten it and prevent fluids from coming up into the esophagus.
Acid reflux can be uncomfortable, but it rarely qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Long Term Disability benefits on its own.
In order to qualify for benefits, the applicant must be unable to work. However, the Social Security Administration recognizes that even minor conditions can be disabling if you suffer from multiple disorders.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Most initial applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied. Appealing a denial can be a long and complicated process, but appeals often result in benefits. Disability attorneys understand what is needed to qualify for benefits. They have helped other people through the difficult process. The social security attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed focus on helping Texans get the benefits they need. Bemis, Roach and Reed provides service to central Texas, including Austin, Dallas, and Houston. If you have been denied benefits or are just considering applying, get a professional social security lawyer on your side. Contact the disability advocates of Bemis, Roach and Reed today.Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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