cirrhosisCirrhosis is categorized as chronic liver disease. This condition develops when the liver has sustained long-term damage, is replaced by scar tissue, and no longer functions the way it’s supposed to. Because the liver is a critical organ that helps fight infections, filter toxins from the blood, digest certain nutrients, and store energy, damage to this organ can be quite serious, sometimes leading to liver cancer.

Liver disease and cirrhosis are the 7th leading cause of death in American adults between the ages of 25 and 64. 

If your cirrhosis interferes with your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, because it’s not easy to obtain benefits for this condition, it’s important to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) attorney to ease you through the application process and help ensure a successful claim.

Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis

In the early stages of cirrhosis, many people have no symptoms of the disease. Symptoms are usually caused by the liver’s failure to perform its normal functions and/or scarring that distorts the liver’s shape and size. Patients suffering from cirrhosis often experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Overall weakness
  • Weight loss due to loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Loss of sex drive

These symptoms may not occur until a patient has complications of the condition. These complications include:

  • Fluid retention that causes weight gain
  • Edema—swelling in the legs and angles due to fluid retention
  • Problems breathing due to fluid retention
  • Abdominal pain caused by gallstones or the enlargement of the liver
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling caused by fluid retention
  • Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Easy bruising and bleeding from the nose or gums caused by problems with blood clotting

Treatment for Cirrhosis

Because cirrhosis is a disease that can’t be cured, treatment focuses on managing symptoms, dealing with complications, and ensuring the condition doesn’t get worse. Treatment for these things includes:

  • Making lifestyle changes. Avoid alcohol, lose weight, exercise, and ensure good hygiene to reduce infections.
  • Making dietary changes. Because patients with cirrhosis can become malnourished, it’s important that they eat a balanced diet filled with critical nutrients. Additionally, it’s essential to reduce salt intake to help decrease fluid build-up.
  • Taking medications. Depending on the type of damage your liver has sustained, you may need certain prescription medications to help with infections and other complications. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you take a diuretic to decrease the fluid in your system.

Cuddigan Law Can Help

If you’ve been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may qualify for SS disability benefits. Hiring an experienced SS attorney can help determine if you meet a listing in the SSA Blue Book, or your condition could be evaluated under the agency's residual functional capacity. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on the application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska