Liver disorders can be very debilitating, painful illnesses. Depending on the nature of the disorder, some individuals suffering from liver disease may qualify for social security disability benefits.
Your liver is a large organ that works in your body to help you digest food and clean your body of toxins. Your liver is necessary to your survival, and chronic liver disease can result in death. There are many different types of illness that can affect the liver and that qualify for social security disability benefits.
Some liver diseases are genetic (as in passed down through family members), viral (as in contracted), or are associated with outside sources like excessive alcohol use or obesity. Symptoms of liver disease may include itching, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, and loss of appetite.
The Social Security office characterizes chronic liver disease by liver cell necrosis which is the inflammation or scarring to the liver, due to any cause, that has been present for greater than six months. Chronic liver disease can also lead to conditions called portal hypertension, bile flow problems, and liver cancer. Progressive decline of liver function can lead to hemorrhaging, the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (known as ascites), or encephalopathy. A progressive decline of liver enzymes in the blood can be indicative of liver failure. End stage liver disease is only cured with a liver transplant.
Chronic liver diseases recognized by the social security office may include alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease), chronic hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, drug-induced liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Acute episodes of liver disease do not qualify for disability benefits.
End stage liver disease is evaluated by the SSA CLD score. This is a formula that reviews three different lab values; serum total bilirubin, serum creatinine, and international normalized ration. Two consecutive CLD scores that meet the requirements set forth by the Social Security office qualify an individual for disability benefits for end stage liver disease.
The Social Security office collects a significant amount of data regarding an individual’s condition prior to making a disability determination. The office may request laboratory findings (particularly those related to the chronic liver disease), radiology findings (cat scans, MRIs, ultrasounds), liver biopsies as well as evaluations by your personal health care providers.
For more information about disability benefits for individuals with chronic liver disease, check out the Social Security Office website.