Social Security Disability: Interstitial Cystitis & the New Regulations

Increased Diagnoses

Over the past 24 plus years of handling social security disability claims in Pennsylvania, I have seen an increase in the number of people who have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis.  This is a complex disorder that affects the bladder and pelvic region. Organizations like the American Urological Association (AUA) also refer to this condition as “interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome” (IC/PBS); or “bladder pain syndrome.” 

Regardless, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently issued a Regulation (SSR 15-1p) which, for the first time, discusses how interstitial cystitis must be analyzed in social security disability claims, including at hearings.

Medically Determinable Impairment

While the regulation is rather lengthy, it discusses, among other things, how a person establishes that they have a medically determinable impairment (MDI) of interstitial cystitis/IC.  SSA states that a person can provide medical source evidence from a licensed medical doctor.  This doctor is often the person’s treating physician. 

That said, SSR 15-1p also makes clear that the doctor’s simple statement that a person has interstitial cystitis is, alone, insufficient to establish the condition to the level of being disabling. Generally, the social security administration requires medical signs or laboratory findings to establish that a person’s IC is disabling. The regulation identifies the types of tests and medical findings that are necessary.

Acceptable Medical Source

Regulation SR 15-1p also reviews common symptoms of IC noting, among others: chronic pain and pressure in the bladder and pelvic region.  Urinary urgency and frequency (often requiring bathroom breaks up to 60 times a day) are also a common symptom.  Other symptoms include sleep dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and chronic fatigue and tiredness.

Co-occuring Conditions

An additional and frequently occurring symptom of IC relates to a person’s mental condition.  It is quite common, for example, for people suffering from interstitial cystitis to also suffer from depression and anxiety.  When present, it is imperative that any person seeking disability which relates, at least in part to mental health conditions, also obtains mental health treatment and documentation as well.  This will help support the social security disability claim.

Of course, even if a person establishes that their interstitial cystitis is an MDI, this is not the end of the inquiry. Even if IC is established, the SSA still must determine whether a person is able to perform any job they worked within the past 15 years, and if not, whether such person is  able to perform other work to which they can make an adjustment.

If you have a Social Security Disability claim in Pennsylvania and have a disability hearing scheduled, or maybe you are likely to file a claim soon, and if interstitial cystitis is an important factor in that claim, contact the disability attorneys at Trinity Law in York and Lancaster, PA and surrounding counties for help today.