Interstitial Cystitis and Qualifying for Disability Benefits
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Interstitial Cystitis?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
Though interstitial cystitis is not specifically listed as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book, it may still be possible to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. First you must show that you have a medically determined impairment (MDI) which means you must prove that you have IC.
Interstitial cystitis (or IC) is part of a group of conditions known as painful bladder syndrome that causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain.
IC is common, affecting between 3 million and 8 million women and between 1 and 4 million men in the United States.
The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine.
When full, the bladder sends a signal to the brain through the pelvic nerves creating an urge to urinate. People with IC feel a need to urinate more often with less urine than normal. There are two types of interstitial cystitis: ulcerative and non-ulcerative. Non-ulcerative IC is characterized by pinpoint hemorrhages in the bladder wall called glomerulations and affects 90% of IC patients. Approximately 5-10% of IC patients have ulcerative IC with red, bleeding patches called Hunner’s ulcers on the bladder wall.
It is difficult to diagnose interstitial cystitis because the condition has a wide range of symptoms.
Because of this, some researchers believe it might actually be several diseases. Urinary pain that lasts longer than six weeks and is not caused by kidney stones or other infections might be IC. Interstitial cystitis interferes with an individual’s social life, sleep, exercise, and work, negatively affecting all areas of their life.
Symptoms vary from person to person and can change daily, or weekly and continue for months or years:
- Persistent need to urinate throughout the day in small amounts (up to 60 X per day)
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Bladder pressure and pain that worsens as the bladder stores urine
- Pain between the vagina and anus in women
- Pain between the scrotum and anus in men
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Interstitial Cystitis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
There is no specific known cause for interstitial cystitis, but it’s probable that several factors contribute to the condition.
- A defect in the protective lining of the bladder (epithelium), such as a leak, that allows toxic substance in the urine to irritate the bladder
- An autoimmune reaction that targets the bladder
- Another condition that causes inflammation
- Hereditary factors
There is no specific test for interstitial cystitis so the first step in diagnosing IC is to rule out other medical conditions with similar symptoms such as kidney stones, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted disease and endometriosis.
In addition to a physical exam and pelvic exam, a series of tests may be conducted including a urinalysis to detect infection and examine cells, a cystoscopy to show the lining of the bladder, and a biopsy of bladder tissue.
Most cases of interstitial cystitis resolve on their own, but there are several steps an individual can take to manage their condition:
- Gradually retrain yourself to urinate less frequently
- Avoid wearing tight clothing
- Quit smoking
- Reduce stress
- Low impact exercise like walking
- Avoiding foods that may trigger bladder irritation such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, carbonated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods and artificial sweeteners.
In addition to recommended lifestyle changes, a doctor may prescribe physical therapy to relax muscles and medications to control spasms, build bladder tissue and reduce the urge to urinate.
The long-term effects of interstitial cystitis can negatively impact all areas of a person’s life.
In addition to side effects of medications like drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and fatigue an individual can suffer from anxiety and depression, affecting their relationships and employment. Though interstitial cystitis is not specifically listed as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book, it may still be possible to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have IC. First you must show that you have a medically determined impairment (MDI) which means you must prove that you have IC.
You must provide medical evidence that you are experiencing all or some of the following symptoms and that your symptoms are not caused by another condition.
- Pain in the bladder and pelvis
- Pinpoint bleeding on the bladder wall caused by recurring irritation after a cystoscopy
- Hunner’s ulcers on the bladder wall after cystoscopy
- Tenderness in the pelvic area
Results from a number of tests can be submitted as evidence including urinalysis, cystoscopy, biopsy reports, urine culture and cytology, and cystoscopy.
When Social Security is able to confirm a diagnosis of IC, there are a few ways that Social Security may evaluate your case and determine that you are disabled.
- Your disability matches the impairment listing for a related condition. Applicants with IC are likely to also have another condition like lupus or depression, which is either caused by IC or made worse by IC.
- Your IC is equal in severity and lasts the same amount of time as any listed impairment. Social Security will consider impairments closely related to IC when determining the medical equivalence of a listing.
- You have several impairments which, when combined, are as severe as one of the impairments listed in Social Security’s Blue Book. Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book. However, if an applicant has multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit an applicant’s ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work (called a medical-vocational assessment), taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.
If you have interstitial cystitis and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
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.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. 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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