Hepatitis B and C are both serious health concerns. They may cause impairments severe enough to prevent you from working and earning a living to support your family. If you suffer from one of these and cannot continue at your job because of your symptoms, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) for hepatitis. These benefits may include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
At Berger and Green, our disability lawyers can help you determine your eligibility, ensure you have the medical documentation necessary, assist with your application, and even navigate the appeals process if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your claim. Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule your complimentary consultation.
What Criteria Do I Need to Meet to Get Disability Based on My Hepatitis?
Just receiving a hepatitis diagnosis is not enough to qualify for disability programs. The SSA only provides benefits to those with a total, long-term disability that will last a year or longer. However, if your symptoms are severe enough, you may meet the criteria listed in Section 5.05 of the Blue Book. This book outlines the qualifications each medical condition must meet to be eligible for disability benefits.
To qualify based on your hepatitis, your doctor must diagnose you with chronic liver disease and you must have one or more of these complications:
- Bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract;
- Fluid in the peritoneal or pleural cavity;
- Bacterial peritonitis with no apparent cause;
- Related kidney failure, including hepatorenal syndrome;
- Difficulty breathing because of hepatopulmonary syndrome;
- Hepatic encephalopathy; or
- End-stage liver failure likely to cause your death.
If you believe you may qualify for disability, or if you cannot work and need to explore your options for benefits, talk to your doctor about these criteria. They can help you ensure you qualify and make sure your condition is properly documented in your medical records. This is often key in getting the benefits you deserve.
Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits If I Do Not Meet the Criteria in the Blue Book?
In some cases, you can qualify for disability benefits without meeting the criteria in the Blue Book. This requires relying on your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA agent assigned your claim will determine your RFC by reviewing your medical records and supporting documentation, your paperwork from your treating physician, and occasionally the results of a consultative examination with an outside practitioner.
Your RFC review will show your ability to complete a number of specific tasks you need to do in order to work. In addition, it determines how long and how frequently you can work. If your health situation makes it impossible to continue at your current job, work any other job you qualify for, or work a job that requires no special skills, you should be eligible for benefits based on your RFC.
What Medical Evidence Do I Need to Get Disability?
The SSA uses the contact information included on your application for benefits to request your medical records, supporting documentation, and other proof of your health condition and related impairments. We can help you gather this information and can review your case before you submit your claim file.
When the disability examiner working on your application requests your records, they are looking for complete documentation of your diagnosis, treatment, and current health status. They specifically look for laboratory testing results, biopsies, imaging scans, treatment records, and similar proof. The better your doctor and specialists document your condition, the better chance you have of receiving an approval the first time you apply.
Treatment notes can be extremely important if your hepatitis treatment causes debilitating side effects. Interferon, for example, can have a wide range of side effects that make it difficult to work. This effective hepatitis drug can cause fatigue and increase your risk of secondary infections, which may limit your ability to work.
What Are the Other Criteria for Disability Benefits?
While meeting the medical qualifications is often the most difficult part of getting disability benefits, there are also additional criteria you must meet to receive these monthly payments. The criteria differ from program to program.
To qualify for SSDI, you must have enough recent work history to have the qualifying number of work credits. This number varies based on your age. You also need to earn less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, which is $1,170 per month for 2017. You can earn additional money from investments or other sources that does not jeopardize your benefits.
SSI is an income-based program. You must have an extremely low household income to qualify. For 2017, the monthly income limit is $735 for an individual and $1,103 for a couple. This includes both earned and unearned income. You also need to show you have less than $2,000 in assets—or $3,000 for a couple—not including your home, vehicle, and a short list of other exceptions. You do not need to have any substantial work history to qualify for SSI.
What If the SSA Denies My Application?
It is all too common to receive a denial letter after applying for SSD benefits. In fact, the SSA denies more applicants than they approve. However, this does not mean you should lose hope.
We know how the disability appeals process works. We can help you navigate each step and fight for the benefits you deserve. We can collect all the evidence necessary and build a strong case to present to the administrative law judge.
We represent you in your appeals hearing and lay out our case for approval of your claim. In most cases, we can get approval for our qualifying clients during this hearing.
Do I Need a Pittsburgh SSD Attorney to Help Me Get Benefits?
The disability lawyers at Berger and Green can help you secure the benefits you need to ensure your family’s financial well-being. We can evaluate your situation, determine which programs you may qualify for, and review your application before you file. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.