As the body’s largest organ, the liver is called a “metabolic factory” because of its role in changing food into energy after being digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. The liver has critical functions, including:
- The storing and processing of nutrients
- Blood clotting
- Producing bile
- Removing toxins the kidneys can’t expel
When the liver experiences significant, long-term damage, its healthy tissue is replaced by scar tissue, causing liver disease. Over 200,000 people develop chronic liver disease each year.
If you’re unable to work because you suffer from liver disease, you may be eligible for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
However, it’s important to enlist the help of an experienced Social Security (SS) attorney to help with your application in order to classify your condition properly.
What Are the Different Types of Liver Disease?
There are over 100 types of liver disease, and in all cases, there's damage to the liver that interferes with its ability to function properly. Here's a brief look at some types of liver disease, including cirrhosis.
This disease occurs when your body builds up too much iron by absorbing more than you need. While iron is important for your body to function normally, too much is toxic. When your body can’t expel excessive iron, the iron gets stored in body tissues such as the liver, pancreas, and heart, which can damage these organs.
There are two types of hemochromatosis—primary and secondary. Primary hemochromatosis is inherited. Secondary hemochromatosis usually occurs due to some other agent such as anemia or a blood transfusion.
This condition is an inherited disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to get rid of extra copper. While it’s important that you get a small amount of copper from certain foods, too much can be harmful. Typically, your liver filters out wastes and toxins and release them into bile—a fluid produced by the liver that carries these toxins out through the gastrointestinal tract.
However, when you suffer from Wilson disease, the copper builds up in the liver, and it gets released into your bloodstream, which can cause organ damage—especially to the eyes, kidneys, and brain. The disease often presents as a brown, rusty ring around the cornea.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
NAFLD comprises a group of conditions that occurs when there's a buildup of fat in the liver that isn't caused by drinking alcohol. If a patient has more than 5–10 percent of fat in the liver, he has what is considered a “fatty liver.” It's one of the most prevalent causes of chronic liver disease.
One common NAFLD condition is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It's similar to the type of liver disease that occurs due to heavy drinking over a long period of time. However, patients with NASH have never abused alcohol. When NASH worsens, it can cause liver scarring that might lead to cirrhosis.
Patients with cirrhosis suffer from a slowly deteriorating liver that cannot function properly due to chronic injury. Healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue that partially obstructs blood flow through the liver.
An interesting characteristic of the liver is that it can regenerate after it’s been damaged. However, if there's severe injury to the liver, or the damage has been over a long period of time, the organ creates scar tissue, which is tougher than regular tissue. This scar tissue hardens the liver and reduces its ability to function. Eventually, this leads to chronic liver failure.
Obtaining SS Disability for Cirrhosis
To be eligible for SS disability and meet the requirements of the SSA's Blue Book’s chronic liver disease listing, you must be diagnosed with end-stage liver disease or chronic liver disease that's lasted at least six months. In addition, your health needs also to be complicated by a variety of related conditions, including:
- Ascites—the excess buildup of fluid in the peritoneal cavity
- Hydrothorax—the excess buildup of fluid in the pleural cavity
- Gastrointestinal or esophageal hemorrhaging
If you don’t meet these criteria or don’t suffer from these severe complications, the SSA may not initially approve your claim for benefits. However, even you don't meet a listing your limitations, including fatigue may prevent you from working.Cuddigan law can help gather the medical records and reports to show your functional limitations that make it impossible for you to work.
We Can Help
If you’ve been diagnosed with any type of liver disease, especially 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 RFC.
Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who will assist you with your application or appeal to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.