GERD and Acid Reflux - Information for Social Security Disability

GERD can lead to disabling conditions if left untreated.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, is a condition in which the stomach contents, including acid, leak back (reflux) into the esophagus. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach, doesn't close properly. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it can cause a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), inflammation, and ultimately damage to the esophagus.

What Are the Symptoms of GERD?

Persistent heartburn is the most frequent symptom of GERD. Other symptoms include chest pain, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. The backup of digestive fluids in the esophagus may also cause dry cough, bad breath, and acid indigestion. About 1 in 10 people with chronic GERD develop "Barrett's esophagus," a condition where the esophageal lining becomes damaged and thickened.

What Causes GERD?

No one specific cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease has been identified, although a hiatal hernia is thought to contribute to this condition. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. Thus, a hiatal hernia makes it easier for stomach acid to bypass the diaphragm and make its way into the esophagus. People of any age can develop a hiatal hernia; many otherwise healthy people over 50 have a small hernia.

Can GERD Be Treated Successfully?

GERD is a chronic (ongoing) disease. Treatment usually must be maintained even after symptoms have been alleviated. A special diet, abstinence from alcohol, long-term use of medication, and even surgery may be needed to bring acid reflux under control. It is essential that patients with GERD work with their physician to receive the most effective treatment available.

Left untreated, this disease can lead to serious complications, including scarring of the esophagus and asthma, and may increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

Can I Get Disability Benefits for Chronic GERD?

GERD itself rarely qualifies for disability benefits, since it can usually be treated with diet and medication. However, an individual could apply for disability benefits if GERD were to lead to a more serious complication like asthma, esophageal cancer, or stomach cancer.

Do You Qualify for Disability in Your State?
Find out in minutes by taking our short quiz.

Talk to a Disability Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you