Per John Hopkins Medicine, cirrhosis of the liver occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. This process stops the liver from working normally and the damage to your liver builds up over time. Although many people might associate cirrhosis with alcohol consumption, cirrhosis can also be caused by hepatitis and other viruses, autoimmune disorder, blocked or damaged bile ducts, certain medications and chemicals, parasite infections, episodes of heart failure with blood build up in the liver, certain diseases passed from parent to child, as well as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Symptoms may include fluid buildup, vomiting blood, muscle loss, low energy and weakness, and even confusion, among other symptoms (Source: John Hopkins Medicine).
If you or are someone you know is suffering from cirrhosis or liver failure, they may be eligible for Social Security benefits if the symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from working. Additionally, chronic liver disease (an umbrella term that includes cirrhosis) will entitle an individual to disability benefits provided certain clinical and diagnostic findings are present. The Social Security Administration must find individuals who meet or equal the criteria of a “Listed Impairment” disabled. The relevant Listing concerning chronic liver disease is Listing 5.05.
Under Listing 5.05, the clinical criteria and documented medical findings required are fairly specific. For example, to be found disabled pursuant to Listing 5.05(A), there must be hemorrhaging from gastric, esophageal, or ectopic varices demonstrated by endoscopy, x-ray, or other appropriate medically acceptable imaging resulting in hemodynamic instability and requiring the transfusion of at least 2 units of blood. Additionally, requirements of the Listing can be met by demonstrating hepatic encephalopathy, hepatopulmonary syndrome, end stage liver disease with CLD scores of 22 or greater calculated, hepatorenal syndrome, ascites or hydrothorax not attributable to other causes, despite continuing treatment as prescribed, present on at least 2 evaluations at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period, or spontaneous bacterial peritonitis with peritoneal fluid containing an absolute neutrophil count of at least 250 cells/mm3.
Finally-as in all other disability claims-you must meet certain non-medial requirements to be eligible for disability benefits under Title II (SSDI) or Title XVI (SSI) of the Social Security Act. If you have had any issues with alcohol or drug use during your period of disability, it must be determined that this substance use was not material to your disability.
Despite the strength of the clinical findings in your case, you can always benefit from the assistance of a law firm that specializes in disability benefits if you believe you may be disabled due to cirrhosis or other chronic liver problems.