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Liver Disease - Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Outline: Information regarding liver disease, includes how to apply for and qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Main Digest

Liver disease is a collective phrase which encompasses a whole host of different illnesses that affect the liver.

Roughly 30,000 people in the United States alone die of some form of liver disease each year, with tens of thousands of people being actively treated for the disease(s). Considering the importance of liver function in the body, those who suffer with liver disease every day can become severely impaired. Here, the function of the liver, types of liver disease, and how to apply for and qualify for Social Security Disability benefits are discussed.

The Liver and its Functions

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. A member of the digestive system, the liver lies in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. The liver has many important functions, including the following:

When we consider all that the liver does for us, making sure we seek and obtain treatment when the liver malfunctions is important.

Types of Liver Disease

There are many types of liver disease. Here, our discussion will be narrowed to address only cirrhosis and hepatitis. 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. Cirrhosis, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, is characterized by chronic damage to the liver. Scar tissue slowly replaces normal functioning liver tissue, progressively diminishing blood flow through the liver. As the normal liver tissue is lost, nutrients, hormones, drugs and poisons are not processed effectively by the liver. In addition, protein production and other substances produced by the liver are inhibited. Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver cell damage and destruction, often caused by the introduction of a virus or toxin into the body.

Common signs and symptoms of liver disease include the following:

Treatments for liver disease are dependent upon the severity of the illness.

While some physicians may pursue a more conservative route with bedrest and diet, some physicians may decide it is necessary to pursue a more invasive route to include conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation; chemoembolization (injecting cancer-killing drugs into the liver via a catheter) and other interventional cancer treatments; bile duct drainage via catheter; stenting (placement of a tiny mesh-metal tube to support the bile duct or a blood vessel in the liver); intravenous blood pressure-lowering medications; and liver transplant.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

The degree to which liver disease impairs an individual varies from person to person. Therefore, the Social Security Administration has developed specific criteria, setting their standard by which those who suffer with liver disease may qualify for benefits. These criteria include the following:

These criteria are addressed in much more detail by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, keep in mind that the liver disease symptoms which meet the criteria for receipt of benefits may develop as a result of the disease process and/or the medications prescribed and used to treat the disease.

The medical evidence supporting one's argument that he or she may meet these criteria, and therefore qualify for disability benefits, is crucial to obtaining a favorable finding. Physicians are considered experts in their field of practice, and their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis concerning a person's condition are key to determining if someone who suffers with liver disease qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.

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