Social Security Disability SSI and Hepatitis

Social Security evaluates Hepatitis under the digestive system category in the Social Security Disability handbook.

Social Security must have a diagnosis of hepatitis that is confirmed by a biopsy with one of the following conditions if an individual is to meet or equal the disability handbook listing. The conditions are:

1. Ascites that has persisted or been recurrent for three months or more and has required paracentesis (removal of fluid in the abdomen) or persistent hypoalbuminemia of 3.0 or less.

2. A serum bilirubin of 2.5 or more with repeated testing within the past three months.

3. A diagnosis of hepatic cell necrosis or inflammation that has been documented by abnormal prothrombin time and other enzymes associated with hepatic dysfunction that has persisted for three months or more.

These criteria are what it would take to potentially meet or equal a listing in the Social Security Impairment Handbook. If you have any one of the above mentioned conditions along with a diagnosis of Hepatitis documented by a biopsy, you will most likely be approved for disability.

You may be able to win disability benefits from Social Security even if you do not meet or equal the above mentioned criteria for individuals with chronic liver disease.

Remember, Social Security Disability is based upon an individual's residual functional capacity (what an individual is capable of doing in spite of the limitations cause by their disabling medical or mental conditions or conditions). Therefore, if your hepatitis has prevented your from performing substantial gainful work activity for the past twelve months or you expect that it will prevent your work activity for twelve months or more, your condition may be severe enough to apply and be approved for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.

Social Security considers the limitations imposed upon an individual by their disabling condition or conditions to be a truer indicator of their disability than what an individual's particular condition is.

Consequently, the answer is yes, you can get Social Security Disability if you have hepatitis if it so severely limits your daily activities that you are unable to perform substantial work activity.

Additional information on Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a swelling of the liver that hinders proper function. It is usually caused by viruses that are transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing of needles and other activities that can cause a sharing of blood, but toxins such as medical drugs and alcohol and other infections can also lead to Hepatitis. Hepatitis is acute when it lasts for less than six months or it can be chronic when it last longer than six months. The disease can go away on its own after a short period of time or last a lifetime. There are several different types of hepatitis, but the most common types in the United States are hepatitis A, B and C, though sometimes hepatitis D and E are found.

While some people experience no symptoms of hepatitis, others may experience diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, headaches, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, stomach pain, dark urine and jaundice. Hepatitis is diagnosed through medical evaluation and blood tests. Most cases of hepatitis go away on their own. Occasionally one will need to take medications for certain symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting and rarely it may be treated with the drugs interferon, lamivudine, or adefovir. Not all drugs work on everyone and usually doctors simply recommend getting plenty of rest, drinking a lot of water, abstaining from alcohol and medicines that may harm the liver such as acetaminophen.

Hepatitis A can cause swelling of the liver, but it doesn't usually cause permanent liver damage and usually gets better on its own. Nearly everyone who contracts hepatitis A gets better. It is usually transmitted through drinking water or food that is contaminated with feces from an infected person. It can also be caused by anal-oral sexual contact. If you feel you are at a high risk for hepatitis A you may get a vaccine.

Hepatitis B makes the liver swell and damage can occur. Although many people are rid of the virus within a few months, it can last a lifetime. If major damage occurs to the liver due to hepatitis B, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer can occur. It is transmitted through having sex with an infected person, sharing needles (drugs, tattoos, body piercing), exposure to infected blood and through birth, if an infected mother has a child. There is also a vaccine for hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C causes swelling and damage to the liver and oftentimes leads to chronic infection. This can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. While it does get better on its own sometimes, other times treatment is needed through a combination of ribavirin and pegylated interferon. It is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex and the sharing of needles or other person items that can carry blood, such as razors, nail clippers and toothbrushes.

Hepatitis D, E and F are similar, but less common in the United States.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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