Disability Appeals in North Carolina  -   33 Years Experience
David R. Paletta
Disability Attorney

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Boone
North Carolina

(919) 491-5643

Gastroparesis and Social Security disability.

Published by David Paletta

Gastroparesis - An overview.

In healthy people, when the stomach is functioning normally, contractions of the stomach help to crush ingested food and then propel the pulverized food into the small intestine where further digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach is unable to contract normally, and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly.

Symptoms.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis include bloating, nausea, early fullness while eating meals, heartburn, and epigastric pain. These symptoms are often referred to as dyspepsia.  A very common symptom is early satiety, or the sensation of feeling full shortly after starting a meal.  Nausea and vomiting are also common. Ingestion of solid foods, high fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, fatty foods or drinks high in fat or carbonation may cause symptoms.

Causes.

Gastroparesis is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which is responsible for many sensory and motor (muscle) responses of the intestine and which regulates the digestive system. A damaged vagus nerve prevents the muscles in the stomach and intestine from functioning, preventing food from moving through the digestive system properly. 

Diabetes is one of the most common causes for Gastroparesis. Other causes include infections, endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism, connective tissue disorders like scleroderma, autoimmune conditions, neuromuscular diseases, idiopathic (unknown) causes, psychological conditions, eating disorders, certain cancers, radiation treatment applied over the chest or abdomen, some chemotherapy agents, and surgery of the upper intestinal tract. Any surgery on the esophagus, stomach or duodenum may result in injury to the vagus nerve.  See http://patients.gi.org/topics/gastroparesis/

Gastroparesis and Social Security disability.  

As with most impairments, only those individuals suffering from the most extreme form of Gastroparesis are awarded disability benefits.  The Listing of Impairments does not specifically address this condition.  If the individual has experienced significant weight loss, then Listing 5.08 may be helpful.

Advanced Gastroparesis has a dramatic adverse impact on the individual's ability to function.  Eating is complicated.  The individual experiences extreme discomfort characterized by nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain and/or diarrhea.  In severe cases, Gastroparesis limits the individual's residual functional capacity to such a degree that no substantial gainful activity (SGA) is possible.  My experience has been that an ALJ will award disability in extreme cases due to the inability to engage in SGA.
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