Hepatitis C and Social Security Disability
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver, eventually resulting in damage to the liver, often manifesting in symptoms like fatigue, jaundice, or abdominal pain. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your Hepatitis C symptoms must be restricting you from working your current, or any other, job. You will need to provide detailed physician reports, diagnoses, laboratory tests, as well as a report from any or all of your doctors that states their professional opinion on your ability to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your documentation as well as the symptoms from your Hepatitis C infection and the side-effects from any treatment you are receiving. Since many of the symptoms from Hepatitis C are not objectively verifiable, like severe and chronic fatigue, you will need to ensure that you are discussing and treating these symptoms with your physician regularly and that they are showing up in your medical documentation. As for the SSA's symptom guidelines, the following (rather stringent) symptoms are considered basis for Social Security disability benefits: 1. Esophageal varices along with a history of hemorrhages attributable to the varices. 2. Patient has had a shunt operation as treatment for their esophageal varices. 3. Serum bilirubin levels at or above 2.5 mg per deciliter, consistent across the span of at least five months. 4. Chronic ascites over a period of five months or more, exhibited by the patient having undergone abdominal paracentesis or having persistent hypoalbumnemia of 30 gml per deciliter (100 ml.) or less. 5. Hepatic encephalopathy. 6. Chronic liver disease (as made evident by liver biopsy), along with: – chronic ascites – serum bilirubin levels at or above 2.5 mg per deciliter – hepatic cell necrosis or inflammation for more than three months If you do not have one of the above symptoms associated with your Hepatitis C, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Your best bet may be to seek out the counsel of an experienced disability lawyer (preferably one who has previously taken on Hepatitis C cases and won) to help you through the process. Your disability attorney may be able to prove your inability to work–despite not meeting all of the SSA's symptom requirements–during the appeals process or your ALJ hearing.