November 20, 2014

Appealing Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim for Cirrhosis of the Liver

Many people find that their initial application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, even though they have a medical condition, such as cirrhosis of the liver, that may be very severe.  Statistically, you are more likely to be turned down for disability benefits on your initial application than you are to be approved.  Therefore, it is important to follow through with an appeal of  the denial of your claim to improve your chances of obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) identifies cirrhosis of the liver as a disabling condition that may entitle you to disability payments.  The SSA addresses this condition in its Listing of Impairments at Listing 5.05: Chronic Liver Disease.  This Listing spells out the criteria that allow a patient with cirrhosis of the liver to be found disabled.  If your medical records show that you have certain complications stemming from your diagnosis of cirrhosis, and if medical imaging and testing have severe enough results, you could meet Social Security’s criteria based on your medical records alone.  For more specific details of Listing 5.05, see this blog post.

Even if your medical records do not show the specific conditions and test results required to meet the Listing, you may still be disabled under Social Security’s rules if you show that your cirrhosis of the liver symptoms and treatments prevent you from maintaining full time employment.  These symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea

Obviously, symptoms may vary from individual to individual, but the effects of these symptoms can powerfully affect your ability to work.  Further, if you have additional medical conditions that cause additional symptoms, the combined effects of all of your medical conditions may prevent you from being able to work.  For example, the fatigue and nausea you experience due to cirrhosis of the liver may be more difficult to overcome if you also suffer from a mental impairment such as major depressive disorder.  If you are being treated for back pain as well as cirrhosis of the liver, Social Security will take into account all of your symptoms from both impairments in determining whether you are able to work.

As with any other physical conditions, proper diagnostic testing and compliance with a treatment regimen is generally necessary to prove to the SSA  that your cirrhosis of the liver is a disabling condition.  It is important that your medical records show you have talked to your physician about your symptoms.  When your medical records clearly show you have a history of these symptoms and your doctors support your allegations of their severity, it is easier for the SSA or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to find that you are disabled under Social Security’s rules.

As I mentioned earlier, most people’s initial applications for benefits are denied, so they must endure the appeals process.  Many of my clients are frustrated that they must wait so long to finally get a hearing.  The Social Security Administration is dealing with a backlog of claims and is struggling to keep up.  I encourage my Indiana neighbors to be patient in these trying times and continue to receive medical treatment for their conditions to enhance their chances of winning their claims.  Many times when a client is found disabled at the hearing level, they are awarded a lump sum payment to cover the benefits they should have been receiving during that waiting period.  I understand my client’s frustration and strive to be as helpful as possible during that long wait.

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