Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hepatitis C and Social Security Disability

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits due to the effects of Hepatitis C can be a frustrating process.  Hepatitis C is a viral infection affecting primarily the liver.  In many instances, the disease is asymtomatic.  However, when the condition becomes chronic, a person suffering from this disease can experience fatigue, anemia and nausea.  There is no cure for chronic hepatitis C and unfortunately, the treatment used to control it can be extremely debilitating.
The Social Security Administration Analyses applications for disability benefits from claimants suffering from Hepatitis C, under Section 5.05 of the Listing of Impairments.  Meeting the requirements for the listing can be very complicated.  Section 5.05 requires that a claimant prove the existence of one or more of the following conditions:
  • excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity (called ascites) or the pleural cavity (called hydrothorax)
  • spontaneous bacterial peritonitis
  • esophageal or gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • hepatorenal syndrome
  • hepatopulmonary syndrome, or
  • hepatic encephalopathy.
If you have Hepatitis C and are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, you should ask your doctor whether you meet any of the conditions listed in Section 5.00 of the Listing of Impairments.  You should also consider hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer who can prepare a questionnaire for your doctor in order to fully ascertain whether you meet the listing requirements.
You might still be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits, even if you do not meet the requirements in the listing.  Under those circumstances, you can argue that the condition imposes functional limitations that prevent you from working.  Proving these limitations is probably the hardest aspect of a Social Security Disability case dealing with Hepatitis C due to the fact that most of the symptoms of the disease are highly subjective. The best way to deal with this problem is by talking to your doctor and letting him or her know, as often as possible, of your symptoms.  Hopefully, you doctor will make notations on the medical record that you can use later on in the disability process.  You can also obtain statements from former co-workers and relatives attesting to your limitations.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that Hepatitis C impacts your ability to perform physical work as well as your cognitive abilities.  Most claimants with Hepatitis C who are successful in obtaining disability benefits are able to show that the disease has adversely affected both of these areas of functioning.  However, if your past work experience involved mostly physical work and you are fifty or older, you might be able to win your disability case solely on your physical limitations, depending on your educational level.