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Social Disability Benefits For Hepatitis
I have been diagnosed with hepatitis.Can I receiveSocial Security Disability benefits (SSD), Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI)?
Getting a diagnosis of hepatitis is just the start. The main focus in a Social Security disability claim is usually on the symptom/s you experience from hepatitis and how these affect your ability to do physical and mental work-related activities eight (8) hours per day, five (5) days per week.
Hepatitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the liver. It is usually caused by a virus, but could also result from drug or alcohol abuse. Viral hepatitis has five main forms: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, with A, B, and C being the most common.
Hepatitis A is present in waste materials (feces) from infected persons and is thus often transmitted through contaminated food or drink.Hepatitis B is transmitted via infected bodily fluids such as blood and semen, while Hepatitis C is passed on mostly via infected blood only.
In the first weeks of infection, hepatitis may not show signs. But eventually, common symptoms occur such as loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, belly pain,mild fever, and yellowish skin or eyes (jaundice).
Is Hepatitis Classed as a Disability?
To decide if you are disabled and eligible for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a 5-step process.
Step 1. Are you working?
First, SSA considers your work activity. If you are engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), they will not consider you disabled. Each year, there is an amount of earnings that indicate you are working at SGA. For 2018 it is $1,180 per month if you are not blind and $1,970 per month if you are blind. If you are working and earning more than the SGA limit, then you will not be found disabled. If you are not working, or if your earnings are less than SGA, you can proceed to Step 2 where your hepatitis is considered.
Step 2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
For SSA to consider you disabled, your hepatitis must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities such as sitting; standing; walking; lifting; carrying; understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple instructions; making simple work-related decisions; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and work stress; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
In addition, you must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (or a combination of impairments) that is severe and has lasted or is expected last one (1) year or end in death. If your hepatitis is not that severe, you may not meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits. If your condition is that severe, the process goes to Step 3.
Step 3. Does your medical condition meet or equal the severity of a Listing?
The Social Security Administration has a listing of severe medical criteria. If your impairments match these criteria, you will be found disabled. The Adult Listing for hepatitis can be found here.
If your impairments do not match at least one of the listings, or if the duration requirement is not met, the SSA looks at your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). The RFC is a function-by-function assessment of your maximum ability to perform sustained work-related activities on a regular and continuing basis. In other words, this is an evaluation of your capacity to do full-time work. The SSA then proceeds to Step 4.
Step 4. Can you do any of the jobs you have performed in the past fifteen (15) years?
The SSA checks if your medical condition prevents you from being able to work full-time at jobs you have done in the past fifteen (15) years. If they see that you can perform any of your past relevant work (PRW), they will not consider you disabled.Your PRW are those jobs that involved substantial gainful activity(SGA);were performed in the fifteen (15) year relevant period; and performed long enough to learn the job. If SSA sees that you can no longer perform your past relevant work, or that you have not worked in the past fifteen (15) years, the process goes on to Step 5.
Here at Step 4, you have the burden of proof – meaning, you need to present solid proof or evidence. Two of the strongest types of evidence are medical evidence and the opinions of your doctors. The best medical evidence is what is known as objective medical evidence, or evidence that is not based on what you tell your doctors – they are instead based on independent tests and the like. Meanwhile, the strongest opinions are those that are from doctors who specialize in your condition and are backed by objective medical evidence.
For hepatitis, some types of objective medical evidence that can support your disability claim include:
- Imaging such as, but not limited to, x-ray, sonography, CAT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and radionuclide scans
- Laboratory findings such as, but not limited to, increased liver enzymes, increased serum total bilirubin, increased ammonia levels, decreased serum albumin, and abnormal coagulation studies, such as increased International Normalized Ratio (INR) or decreased platelet counts
- Medical documents showing one or more of these: internal bleeding due to ectopic, esophageal, or gastric varices; fluid collection in the abdomen; hepatic encephalopathy; a confirmed diagnosis of hepatitis.
Doctors who specialize in treating hepatitis include:
- Hepatologists – specialists in liver diseases
- Gastroenterologists – specialists in stomach and intestinal diseases
- Hematologists – specialists on the blood
If you opt to only see your primary care doctor or family doctor for your hepatitis, the SSA may see this as a sign that your condition is not that serious. You will want to treat with a specialist, and a good Social Security disability lawyer should be able to help you find sources for this treatment, even if you do not have health insurance.
Step 5. Can you do any other type of work?
Here at Step 5, the “burden of proof” shifts to the SSA. If you can no longer do your past relevant work, the SSA checks if you are able to do other work. It looks at your medical condition, your age,education, past work experience, and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you can do other work, the SSA will not consider you disabled. If you cannot do other work, SSA will find you disabled.
If you are over 50 years old, there are special rules that may apply to your claim. These rules may consider you disabled even if there is some other work you can do full-time. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer will be familiar with these rules and can ensure that they are considered in your application.
As you can see, the process of applying for hepatitis disability benefits can be strict. Some hepatitis patients even get denied because they are considered to be sufficiently functional despite their illness. In general, about two-thirds of all initial disability claims are rejected.
Contact Gillette Law Group
But don’t feel discouraged by the challenging process. Whether this is your first try or you are appealing a denial, you still have a chance to succeed. We at the Gillette Law Group have years of experience enabling people like you effectively obtain disability benefits. Let us help you before your deadline expires. Consult with us for free at (855) 873-2604.