Millions of Americans have been living their lives for the last several decades without knowing that a disease has been dormant inside them.
It's hepatitis C, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 4 million people are currently infected - two out of three of them baby boomers, who may just now be learning that they have been infected.
Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney Vincent Howard of HOWARD LAW knows that while a diagnosis of this condition alone will not be enough for the Social Security Administration to award you disability benefits, your resulting symptoms may be enough for you to reach the threshold.
Liver cancer is the quickest-growing type of fatal cancer, increasing 20 percent in the last handful of years, primarily due to the rising rates of hepatitis C.
The CDC is urging everyone who was born between 1945 and 1965, some 75 million people, to be tested for the condition. A lot of people may have contracted it through illicit drug use during their youth, but blood transfusions, surgical procedures, tattoos with dirty needles, dialysis or unprotected sex are also another possible source. The only way one can get it is through having it injected into the blood stream.
As you may be familiar, hepatitis C is a chronic condition, and there is no cure for it. If untreated, it may lead to severe liver damage, causing the liver to swell and scar. Ultimately, this could lead to liver cancer and even liver failure. It's one of the top reasons for liver transplants.
If your condition has deteriorated to this point, your chances of being awarded benefits are much higher. The administration notes in its impairment listings, Section 5.05 chronic liver disease, a person may qualify for benefits if he or she has been diagnosed with chronic liver disease AND:
- Has hemorrhaging from gastric, ectopic or esophageal or from portal hypertensive gastrophathy, OR;
- Has hydrothorax or ascites not attributable to other causes, OR;
- Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, OR;
- Hepatorenal syndrome, OR;
- Hepatopulmonary syndrome, OR;
- Hepatic encephalopathy, OR;
- End stage liver disease.
In addition to these severe outcomes, hepatitis C has also been closely associated with:
- Vomiting or nausea;
- Difficulty with concentration or memory.
These symptoms, particularly some combination of them that don't appear to be getting better with ongoing treatment for at least a year, may also qualify you for disability benefits if we can show that they are significantly prohibitive to your ability to work.
That is, we will need to show that your capacity to work has been significantly reduced, and that your condition is unlikely to improve for at least 12 months. An example might be if your physician indicates that you may not stand or sit for more than four hours a day because of your anemia and fatigue, you may be a candidate for a reduced function capacity disability allowance.