Chronic Liver Disease and Social Security Disability
Can I get Social Security Disability Benefits for Liver Disease?
Yes its very possible to get Social Security Disability if you have Chronic Liver Disease. SSA will first look to see if your liver damage meets an SSA medical listing in its Listing of Impairments (also called the "Blue Book"). Listing 5.05 covers all chronic liver diseases.
Liver Disease Listing
To meet the requirements of the chronic liver disease listing, you have to be diagnosed you with either end-stage liver disease or chronic liver disease (having lasted at least six months) with one of the following:
excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity (called ascites) or the pleural cavity (called hydrothorax)
spontaneous bacterial peritonitis
esophageal or gastrointestinal hemorrhage
hepatic encephalopathy, or
end-stage liver disease with SSA CLD scores of 22 or greater.
Being able to meet the exact requirements of the listing are quite difficult. Its best that your doctor provide you a detailed medical report. Its also equally important that you have an experienced attorney who can explain to SSA why you meet a medical listing. Even if you don't meet the requirements of the listing, that doesnt automatically mean you cant get approved for disability benefits. You can still get approved by showing that you have significant functional limitations that prevent you from working.
Liver Transplant Listing
Social Security has a separate listing for those who have had a liver transplant for any reason. To qualify under this listing, you just have to show that you had a liver transplant, and Social Security will consider you to be disabled for one year after the operation.
Functional Limitations of Liver Disease
Even if you cant meet the listing (as mentioned above), you can still win your case by showing that you have severe functional limitations. SSA will assess your RFC, also known as, "residual functional capacity" to determine if there is any work in the national economy you can still do given your functional limitations. For example, if you suffer from breathing issues and need breaks to catch your breath, your RFC should state this. Or if your pain prevents you from walking, lifting, or carrying for any extended period of time, your RFC should include this. Depending on what physical limitations you have, your RFC will normally have a sedentary, light, or medium work rating. Your RFC should also take into consideration your mental limitations (if you have any) caused by your disease, such as an inability to stay focus and concentrate. Its important that you have your doctor include your limitations in your medical visit notes so that SSA can include them in your RFC.
How Your RFC Affects the Disability Determination
Your RFC is very important. It could mean either an approval or denial. If SSA believes that you can still do your previous jobs despite the limitations in your RFC, you will be denied disability benefits. However, if SSA believes you are unable to do your past work, then the SSA will decide if there is any other kinds of work you can do. To make this determination, SSA will look at your RFC rating and restrictions along with your age, job skills, and education level. If SSA finds that there are no other jobs in the national economy that you can perform, they will approve you.
If you ever have any questions about social security disability or SSI benefits, please feel free to reach out to attorney Christopher Le at 210-885-3408.