Hepatitis C is a viral infection that damages the liver. Some infected people may have severe symptoms that prevent them from working or earning an income. These people are eligible for Social Security disability benefits if they meet the requirements of the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability list.
Hepatitis C is spread by contact with the blood of a person infected with the virus. The condition causes inflammation of the liver. In severe cases, it can lead to cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis, which can prevent a person from working or earning an income. In this case, they may be entitled to disability benefits.
Liver disease falls under section 5.05 of the SSA Chronic Liver Disease List of Impairments. These guidelines describe several conditions that a person must meet to be eligible for disability benefits.
This article examines the criteria that a person must meet to be eligible for hepatitis C disability benefits.
A person with chronic hepatitis may have symptoms that make it difficult for them to work or earn an income.
The SSA may judge that there are no jobs available for a person with hepatitis C due to the effects of the disease. A person’s inability to work must have existed – or doctors expect it to exist – for at least 1 year to be eligible for disability benefits.
A person with hepatitis C may be eligible for disability income if they meet the requirements outlined in the SSA Impairment List in Section 5.05, “Chronic Liver Disease”.
Learn about the symptoms of chronic hepatitis C.
The SSA has published a Impairment List, which details the conditions that a person with hepatitis C must meet to be eligible for disability benefits.
The individual must have a diagnosis of hepatitis C, proven by a liver biopsy, in their medical records. Additionally, they must have one of these conditions:
- bleeding due to esophageal, gastric or ectopic varices or portal hypertensive gastropathy
- ascites or hydrothorax not attributable to other causes, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart in a period of 6 consecutive months
- spontaneous bacterial peritonitis with peritoneal fluid
- hepatorenal syndrome, with the conditions set out in sections 5.00D8 and 5.00D9
- hepatic encephalopathy
- terminal liver disease
The requirements for these conditions to be admissible are very specific. Therefore, a person should examine them with a medical professional.
Find out how to find a doctor for hepatitis C.
Collect medical evidence
A person undergoing medical tests for hepatitis C should keep careful records of all their doctor’s visits, lab work, and medical tests. The more hard evidence, such as dates and test results, that a person can present to the SSA, the stronger their case for disability benefits.
In addition, people should keep all records of:
- visits to the doctor, including specialists
- lab work
- biopsies, which are crucial to qualify for benefits
- any other tests or visits with healthcare professionals such as emergency room visits
Keep track of these and report to the doctor any side effects of any medications he is taking to treat hepatitis C, especially those that may interfere with the ability to function at work.
If a person does not meet the criteria for any of the above qualifications, they may still be able to claim benefits by applying for reduced residual functional capacity.
The SSA allows individuals unable to qualify for benefits under the regular criteria in section 5.05 to file a Reduced Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) application. In this case, the organization will take into account a person’s physical and mental symptoms, including side effects of medications, which can make labor difficult or impossible.
The SSA will examine a person’s abilities when making an RFC judgment. The organization will want to know an individual’s physical limitations, such as how long they can stand, lift, push or pull, and how well their sight and hearing are performing. They will also want to know if a drug is causing physical or mental side effects such as weakness, numbness, loss of focus or concentration.
When applying for disability benefits, a person must first collect all documents from the medical professionals who will support the claim.
The SSA also recommends printing and reviewing its Adult Disability Checklist to compile the information needed to complete the application. This can include social security numbers, employer contact details, banking information, employment and educational history, and doctor information.
A person can submit a disability claim on the SSA website or by visiting a local office. Note that it may take several weeks or months for a claim to be reviewed and approved.
It may be helpful to consult with a disability lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies of the disability claims process.
Hepatitis C is a serious illness that causes problematic symptoms in some people. This can make them unable to work or earn income, so they may need to apply for disability benefits.
However, they must meet very specific requirements under the SSA Chronic Liver Disease Guidelines in the Impairment List to be eligible for disability. Anyone wishing to apply may find it helpful for their case to keep all documents from medical appointments, tests or lab appointments and to work closely with their doctor.
Those who do not qualify under SSA guidelines may be eligible to request a reduced RFC claim. In this case, a person has to prove by certain tests that the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of the drugs are causing enough interference to prevent regular labor.