Disability and Chronic Liver Disease – Social Security Benefits
Chronic liver disease can come in many forms, including cirrhosis, hepatitis C and other serious illnesses. If you suffer from a chronic liver condition that makes it impossible for you to continue working, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The information below will help you determine your eligibility status.
Chronic Liver Conditions
The liver is the organ that is responsible for ridding the body of toxins, synthesizing proteins, and producing chemicals that are necessary for digestion. So, it is essential for it to function properly for a body to be healthy. When the liver does not function properly, it can result in various medical conditions, including, but not limited to:
– Hepatitis B
– Hepatitis C
– Wilson’s Disease
– Liver Cancer
– Epstein Barr Virus
– Primary sclerosing cholangitis
– Alcoholic liver disease
Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits
Most disability applicants who have a chronic liver disease have their applications approved because they meet a listing in the SSA’s “Blue Book”, or Listing of Impairments. The Blue Book is simply a listing of common conditions and the medical evidence that is required for proving each condition. Although the information in the Blue Book can often be confusing, a doctor can you understand what everything means and whether you fit the qualification requirements. Since there are different types of chronic liver disease, there are a few different listings in the Blue Book.
– Listing 5.05 covers hepatitis , cirrhosis and other chronic liver conditions
– Listing 5.09 covers applicants who have had a liver transplant
– Listing 5.08 covers liver disease that caused severe weight loss that does not qualify under another listing
When Your Liver Condition is a Secondary Issue
Sometimes chronic liver conditions are a complication of another medical issue. When this happens, the SSA will look at your overall health and even look at multiple Blue Book listings when making a determination on your eligibility for benefits.
Qualifying if a Disability Listing is not Met
If you do not meet the qualifications set forth in the Blue Book, you may still be eligible for disability benefits. To do so, your liver condition must be in an advanced stage. You will have to prove to the SSA that your liver condition, its treatments and complications all prevent you from working by having a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) analysis. The RFC analysis consists of a questionnaire that is to be completed by you. The SSA will also ask for input from your family, friends, coworkers, and employers to see how badly your condition affects your ability to work as well as your other daily activities. For your portion of the questionnaire, you should consult with your doctor and get a thorough report on your health status. In the report, your doctor should take special note of the following issues:
– Your diagnosis
– The condition’s progression
– The prognosis of your condition
– Specific symptoms
– Frequency of symptoms
– Successful treatments
– Unsuccessful treatments
What the SSA Looks for When Determining Qualifications
Once the SSA has your medical records and your supporting evidence, they will put the application through a five-step process to determine your eligibility.
– Determining if you are engaged in substantial gainful activity
According to the standard set by the SSA, to be eligible for disability benefits, you can have an income of no more than $1,040 per month as an employee.
– Does the liver condition severely limit your ability to perform everyday work-related tasks such as standing, sitting, lifting, pulling, or pushing?
– Does the liver condition meet one of the qualifying listings in the Blue Book?
– Can you do the same work you did in the past despite your condition?
– Do your age, education and work experience qualify you for any other type of employment?
Applying for Benefits With a Liver Disease
If you are seeking disability benefits, you must complete an application by either using the online form, speaking with a representative of the SSA on the phone or making an appointment with your local SSA office to fill the form out in person. You must have thorough medical records and evidence to back up your claim. Keep in mind that the most current information is the most important, but the SSA will review records that are several years old as well. Your medical evidence must include the following information:
– Liver value lab results
– Image results from MRIs and other similar tests
– ER and hospital records
– Surgical notes
– Biopsy results
Applying for Benefits With Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a liver condition that causes inflammation of the organ. It is separated into three types (A,B or C), depending on the origin of the illness. When filing for disability because of Hepatitis, your medical records and supporting evidence must include a diagnosis of hepatitis that is supported by a liver biopsy as well as the following information:
– Esophageal varices with documented massive hemorrhaging or
– Having a shunt operation due to esophageal varices or
– Pathological fluid collection in the abdominal region lasting for at least three months that has required the removal of the fluid or
– Hepatic encephalopathy or
– High levels of bilirubin in the blood on repeat exams over a three-month period or
– A confirmed diagnosis of chronic liver disease with ascites.