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Cirrhosis and Qualifying for Disability Benefits

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Cirrhosis?

Author Attorney Lloyd Bemis:

Cirrhosis is a disease that can easily impact your employment and your ability to provide for yourself and your family. If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

cirrhosis disability

The SSA recognizes Cirrhosis in its Blue Book under Section 5.05 Chronic Liver Disease. To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits a person must meet the requirements of the listing or prove that they are unable to work.

Cirrhosis is recognized in Social Security’s Blue Book as an impairment eligible for disability benefits under Section 5.05 Chronic Liver Disease.

“Examples of chronic liver disease include, but are not limited to, chronic hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), autoimmune hepatitis, hemochromatosis, drug induced liver disease, Wilson’s disease, and serum alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.”

In order to qualify, you must be diagnosed with chronic liver disease that has lasted at least six months with one of the following complications.

  •    gastrointestinal hemorrhage requiring a blood transfusion
  •   ascites (excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity) or hydrothorax (fluid in the pleural cavity)
  •   spontaneous bacterial peritonitis
  •   hepatorenal syndrome
  •   hepatopulmonary syndrome
  •   hepatic encephalopathy, or
  •   end-stage liver disease.

Because Social Security’s criteria for this listing is very specific and complex, it’s best to review the requirements with your doctor to find out if you are eligible.

You will need to provide all your medical records and test results to Social Security as evidence of your diagnosis. Social Security will look for documentation in your medical records verifying you have experienced esophageal bleeding and varices, excess fluid in the abdominal cavity, and elevated serum bilirubin levels. A liver biopsy indicating chronic liver disease should also be included in your file. You should also know that some complications from cirrhosis may qualify as disabling conditions on their own; for example, if you have developed diabetes mellitus as a result of cirrhosis, your disability case could be based on that diagnosis.

Cirrhosis is a disease that can easily impact your employment and your ability to provide for yourself and your family. If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

It is estimated that 1 in 400 people suffers from cirrhosis, though the actual number is probably higher since many cases go undiagnosed.

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. Among its many important functions, the liver manufactures enzymes that aid in food digestion, stores sugar and nutrients, and helps the body fight infection. It also breaks down saturated fats, produces cholesterol and rids the body of harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs. When the liver is injured, it repairs itself by forming scar tissue, but if too much scar tissue develops, the liver cannot function properly resulting in cirrhosis. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver, impairing its ability to process nutrients, hormones, drugs and natural toxins.

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Cirrhosis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

Symptoms of the cirrhosis develop over time and a person may not even know they have cirrhosis until the condition is diagnosed at a routine checkup.

At first a person may experience fatigue or weakness, a lack of appetite, weight loss or nausea.

As the disease progresses other symptoms appear:

  •   Changes in skin condition such as jaundice or intense itching
  •   Bleeding or bruising easily
  •    Swelling in legs or abdomen
  •   Vomiting blood
  •   Brownish or orange urine
  •   Redness in palms of hands
  •   Blood in stool
  •   Severe muscle cramps
  •   Enlarged spleen
  •   Fever

Cirrhosis doesn’t happen overnight and can result from a number of different diseases and conditions.

Long-term infections such as Hepatitis B or C and alcoholism are often responsible, but other conditions can lead to cirrhosis as well:

  •   Obesity
  •   Cystic fibrosis
  •   Hemochromatosis – a condition where excess iron is stored in the liver
  •   Wilson’s disease – a condition where too much copper is stored in the liver
  •    Autoimmune diseases that cause the body to attack liver cells
  •   Blockage of the bile duct which carries digestive enzymes from the liver to intestines
  •   Repeated episodes of heart failure causing fluid to back up in the liver
  •   Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (the absence of a specific enzyme in the liver)

If your doctor suspects you have cirrhosis during an exam, they will feel your liver to see if it is enlarged or tender.

A blood test will measure your blood for high levels of liver enzymes and low levels of proteins, as well as detect an abnormal blood count, viral infections and antibodies indicating an autoimmune disease. Your doctor may also order an MRI or a biopsy of liver tissue.

There is no cure for cirrhosis, but treatment can slow the condition’s progress and decrease damage to the liver.

Treatment depends on the cause of the disease. In cases where cirrhosis is caused by an underlying disease such as Hepatitis B or C or Wilson’s Disease, a doctor will treat that condition. If alcohol is responsible, the patient must stop drinking. Edema can be managed by a low-salt diet and diuretics. Medications can be prescribed for fatigue and itching. Though damage to the liver cannot be undone, the liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate and can grow back to its original size even after surgery.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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Attorney Lloyd BemisAuthor: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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