Advances in medical science over the past decades have meant more hope for people living with Hepatitis than ever before. Even those with Hepatits B and C can live long and healthy lives with the right interventions and medical treatment.
Unfortunately, not everyone has been able to benefit from these advances. Many people are living with advanced Hepatits C or chronic liver disease. Treatments for these conditions can cause serious side effects that make it hard to maintain employment. If you have a Hep C diagnosis or are living with liver disease, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD)benefits. This allows you to receive some financial support while you are unable to work.
It can be difficult to understand the detailed criteria for benefits set up by the Social Security Administration. A disability lawyer can work on your behalf to get the help you need.
What is Hep C and Liver Disease?
Hepatitis C is caused by a viral infection. Over many years, the virus causes damage to the liver. This damage cannot be reversed. In end-stage Hepatitis C, the liver is permanently scarred, a phenomenon called cirrhosis. This may eventually lead to liver failure and require a transplant.
At end-stage liver disease, people may have jaundice, bruise easily, lose appetite and have memory and concentration problems. Managing life with chronic liver disease can be very challenging, and directly impact your ability to work and maintain your quality of life.
What Qualifies for SSD?
Chronic liver disease is among the conditions listed in the SSA’s “blue book.” This means that, if you can meet the criteria, you receive the disability designation. However, this section, s. 5.05, “chronic liver disease,” is very complicated. Your physician and lawyer can work together to determine how your condition relates to these rules. To meet the definition, you must have chronic liver disease and have experienced one or more of the following:
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhage;
- Fluid in the peritoneal or pleural cavity;
- Bacterial peritonitis;
- Rapid decline in kidney function (hepatorenal syndrome);
- Low blood oxygen level (hepatopulmonary syndrome);
- Neurological symptoms (hepatic encephalopathy);
- End-stage liver disease.
If you do not meet the s. 5.05 definition of disability, you can still continue your application for SSD benefits. At this stage, you will have to demonstrate that the condition, or its associated treatments, limit your ability to work.
To demonstrate the effect of your Hepatitis C or liver disease diagnosis on your life, you will have to submit medical documentation. You will also have to fill out a
Residual Functional Dapacity form that provides more detail about what you can do and what you cannot. Because of the detailed nature of this application, you may benefit from a consultation with a disability lawyer. This professional is trained and experienced with the SSD application process and is able to help you prepare your case.
What is a Compassionate Allowance?
If your medical diagnosis is certain to meet the criteria of “disability” set out by the SSA, you may qualify for a fast-tracked application process. This is called “compassionate allowance.” It allows some people to get their benefits approved more quickly. Talk to your lawyer to see if this is an option for you.
Who Can Help Me?
The lawyers at The Good Law Group focus exclusively on helping people with SSD cases. We’ve done so for more than 30 years. To learn how we can help you get the support you need as you’re living with Hepatitis C or liver disease, contact us today.