Hepatitis C is a viral infection that damages the liver. Some people with the infection may experience serious symptoms that prevent them from working or earning income. These individuals may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if they meet the requirements in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments.
Hepatitis C spreads through contact with the blood of a person with the virus. The condition causes inflammation of the liver. In severe cases, it can lead to cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis, which may leave an individual unable to work or earn income. In this case, they may be eligible for disability benefits.
Diseases of the liver fall under Section 5.05 of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments regarding chronic liver disease. These guidelines outline several conditions that a person must meet to qualify for disability benefits.
This article examines what criteria a person must meet to be eligible for disability benefits for hepatitis C.
A person with chronic hepatitis may experience symptoms that make it difficult to work or earn income.
The SSA may judge that there are no jobs available to an individual with hepatitis C due to the effects of the illness. A person’s inability to work must have existed — or doctors expect it to exist — for at least 1 year to qualify for disability benefits.
An individual with hepatitis C may be eligible for disability income if they meet the requirements outlined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments under Section 5.05, titled “Chronic liver disease.”
The SSA has published a Listing of Impairments, which details what conditions a person with hepatitis C must meet to qualify for disability payments.
The individual must have a diagnosis of hepatitis C, proven with a liver biopsy, in their medical records. In addition, they must have one of these conditions:
- hemorrhaging from 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 within a consecutive 6-month period
- spontaneous bacterial peritonitis with peritoneal fluid
- hepatorenal syndrome, with conditions set out in sections 5.00D8 and 5.00D9
- hepatic encephalopathy
- end stage liver disease
The requirements for these conditions to qualify are very specific. Therefore, a person should review them with a medical professional.
Learn how to find a hepatitis C doctor.
Gathering medical evidence
A person undergoing medical testing for hepatitis C should keep careful records of all their medical visits, laboratory work, and medical tests. The more tangible evidence, such as dates and test results, that an individual can present to the SSA, the stronger their case for disability benefits.
Additionally, people should keep all records of:
- doctor’s visits, including specialists
- laboratory work
- biopsies, which are crucial to qualify for benefits
- any other tests or visits with medical professionals such as emergency room visits
Keep a record of these and report to the doctor any side effects from any medications they take to treat hepatitis C, especially those that may prevent the ability to function at a job.
If a person does not meet the criteria for one of the above qualifications, they may still be able to file for benefits by making a Reduced Residual Functional Capacity claim.
The SSA allows people unable to qualify for benefits under regular Section 5.05 criteria to file a claim for Reduced Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). In this case, the organization will consider a person’s physical and mental symptoms, including the side effects of medications, that may make working difficult or impossible.
The SSA will examine a person’s capabilities when making an RFC judgment. The organization will want to know an individual’s physical limits, such as how long they can stand, lift, push, or pull, and the performance of their eyesight and hearing. They will also want to know if any medication causes physical or mental side effects such as weakness, numbness, loss of focus, or concentration.
When applying for disability benefits, a person should first gather all the documentation from medical professionals that will support the claim.
The SSA also recommends printing and reviewing their Adult Disability Checklist to compile information necessary to complete the claim. This may include social security numbers, employer details, banking information, job and education history, and doctor’s information.
A person can apply for disability through the SSA’s website or by visiting a local office. Note that it may take several weeks or months for a claim to undergo review and receive approval.
It may help to consult with an attorney who specializes in disability law and is familiar with the intricacies of the disability claim process.
Hepatitis C is a serious disease that causes problematic symptoms for some people. It can render them unable to work or earn income, so they may need to file for disability benefits.
However, they must meet very specific requirements under the SSA’s guidelines for chronic liver disease in the Listing of Impairments to qualify for disability. Anyone who wishes to apply may find that it helps their case to keep all documents from medical appointments, scans, or laboratory appointments and work closely with their doctor.
Those who do not qualify under the SSA’s guidelines could be eligible to apply for a Reduced RFC claim. In this case, an individual must prove with certain tests that symptoms of the illness or side effects of medication are causing enough interference to prevent regular work.