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Liver Disease and Applications for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits

By R. M. Bottger

     The Social Security Administration evaluates all chronic liver disease the same way whether it is caused by cirrhosis, hepatitis, or some other cause.  Liver disease including hepatitis and cirrhosis is a common reason for applying for Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.  Many of these cases are denied.  The people who are found disabled due to liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, are very, very ill.  There are a number of ways that a person with chronic liver disease including hepatitis and cirrhosis can be found disabled.
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     If a person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis or cirrhosis, has a history of a massive hemorrhage due to esophageal varices, then the person will be considered disabled for 3 years after the last massive hemorrhage.  After the 3 years are over, the person's Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability case will be reviewed to see if the person is still disabled.
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     A person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, will considered disabled for 3 years after a shunt operation for esophageal varices.  After the 3 years are over, the person's Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability case will be reviewed to see if the person is still disabled.
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     A person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, will be found disabled if he or she has a serum bilirubin of 2.5 mg. per deciliter or greater persisting for at least 5 months upon repeated examination.
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     A person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, will be found disabled if he or she has ascites, not attributable to other causes, demonstrated by abdominal paracentesis or associated with persistent hypoablbuminemia of 3.0 gm per deciliter or less.
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     If a person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis,  has hepatic encephalopathy; then the resulting mental limitations are evaluated under the Social Security Administrationís regulations for evaluating mental conditions.
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     A person with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrrhosis, will be found disabled if his or her chronic liver disease is confirmed by liver biopsy and the person has at least one of the following:

        Ascites not attributable to other causes, recurrent or persisting for at least 3 months, demonstrated by abdominal paracentesis or associated with persistent hypoalbuminemia of 3.0 gm. per deciliter (100 ml.) or less

        Serum bilirubin of 2.5 mg. per deciliter (100 ml.) or greater on repeated examinations for at least 3 months

        Hepatic cell necrosis or inflammation, persisting for at least 3 months, documented by repeated abnormalities of prothrombin time and enzymes indicative of hepatic dysfunction

            
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