If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may be wondering how you can make ends meet. The majority of individuals who are diagnosed with cirrhosis are unable to work due to the symptoms and complications caused by the condition. Faced with an inability to work and no income, people who suffer from cirrhosis often wonder how they will handle their financial responsibilities. In many cases, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income can help. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this condition, the following information will help you understand how a diagnosis of cirrhosis can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Cirrhosis Condition and Symptoms
Cirrhosis, also refereed to as cirrhosis of the liver, is a scarring of the liver that results in poor liver function. Usually, cirrhosis occurs at the end stage of chronic liver disease. When an individual develops cirrhosis, the liver slowly deteriorates due to chronic scarring. As scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, it causes partial blocks to the flow of blood through the liver. This scarring also prevents the liver from controlling infection, removing bacteria and toxins from the blood, processing nutrients, hormones, drugs, making proteins that regulate blood clotting an producing bile to help absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
In many cases of liver disease, the liver is able to regenerate its own cells, thereby healing itself over time. When an individual is suffering from end-stage cirrhosis, the liver can no longer replace the damaged cells and is incapable of healing itself. Because a healthy liver is necessary for survival, this condition is often fatal. It is estimated that cirrhosis is the twelfth-leading cause of death by disease, accounting for approximately 27,000 deaths each year.
The symptoms of cirrhosis will vary greatly depending on the stage of the disease that a person is suffering from. Some people with cirrhosis will have no symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, common symptoms include general fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pain and bloating and spider-like blood vessels on the skin.
If an individual has been diagnosed with cirrhosis, the ability to maintain full-time work activity is likely not an option. In these cases, an application for Social Security Disability benefits can help offset some of the financial burden caused by an inability to work.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis of the liver is a condition that is covered under the Social Security Disability guidelines under Medical Listing 5.05. While this listing addresses all chronic liver disease, cirrhosis is considered to be an end-stage liver disease by the Social Security Administration is and addressed in paragraph G of this listing.
In order to qualify for disability benefits under the SSA's Medical Listing for Section 5.05 (G), an individual must be at end-stage liver disease with SSA CLD scores of 22 or greater. The CLD score is a new method that the Social Security Administration uses when evaluating end-stage liver disease. To calculate this score, the SSA uses the following formula:
9.57 x [Loge(serum creatinine mg/dL)]
+3.78 x [Loge(serum total bilirubin mg/dL)]
+11.2 x [Loge(INR)]
If your score is 22 or higher, you meet the criteria that has been established by the SSA for end-stage liver disease. If your condition does not meet this specific criteria but still prevents you from performing substantial gainful work activity, you may still qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration but will likely need to appeal a denial of your initial disability claim.
Cirrhosis and Your Social Security Disability Case
Because it is considered to be end-stage liver disease, qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of cirrhosis should be easier than it is for many disability applicants. However, if you do not meet the specific guidelines that have been established by the SSA or your initial claim is denied during the initial stage of the application process, then you will need to pursue the disability appeal process in order to obtain the disability benefits you are entitled to.
When appealing the SSA's decision to deny your Social Security Disability claim based on a diagnosis of cirrhosis, you should contact a Social Security Disability lawyer. These professionals will understand why your initial claim was denied by the Social Security Administration and will help you gather the evidence that will be needed to prove your case to an Administrative Law Judge. While you can technically represent yourself in your disability appeal, statistics show that your chances of success are much greater with proper legal representation.
To learn more about filing for SSD benefits with cirrhosis of the liver or to learn more about working with a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate, simply fill out the form for a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.