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Chronic Liver Disease Patients in Massachusetts Often Qualify for Federal Disability

Along Interstate 93, you may have taken notice of a large billboard near the Zakim Bridge, where the American Liver Foundation displays the face of a 40-year-old Boston-area man who successfully fought for his life after finding himself near-death due to liver disease. orroomlights.jpg

Our Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers hope that others suffering from chronic or acute liver conditions will find hope and encouragement in his story. These individuals should recognize too that while they embark on their own fight for life, they may well qualify to receive federal disability benefits to help them and their families stay afloat financially during treatment.

Section 5.05 of the Social Security Disability impairment listings address chronic liver disease in adults. The question of whether one qualifies according to the listing will be based on levels of hemorrhaging, requirements for blood transfusions, related infections and fluid imbalances that might alter behavioral or mental functions. Also, anyone who has reached the point with their liver disease where they may need an actual liver transplant will likely qualify for federal benefits.

Even those whose illnesses don’t meet the exact criteria may be able to make a strong case for why the conditions, treatments or medications prevent him or her from the ability to work, showing a significantly reduced residual functioning capacity.

The Centers for Disease Control estimated that in 2009, some 101,000 people were diagnosed with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis. It results in 10.3 deaths per population of 100,000, which amounts to about 32,000 deaths in this country annually.

In the case of the 40-year-old billboard survivor from Massachusetts, he was 24 when he was diagnosed with a form of liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC. It is characterized by bile ducts on the outside and inside of the liver narrowing due to inflammation and subsequent scarring. We don’t know what causes it, but we do know that those who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases are about 70 percent more likely to get a PSC diagnosis as well.

For the next three years after that diagnosis, he was in and out of hospitals, suffering from severe pain and weakness. It seemed to be a never-ending cycle of infections, fatigue, medications and treatments. Eventually, the antibiotics he had been given weren’t strong enough to combat the disease, and he would end up hooked to IVs for weeks on end.

At the time, he was newly married with an infant daughter. Yet, he was unable to work. This is the exact kind of scenario for which SSDI benefits were intended.

He lost a significant amount of weight – from a hefty 240 pounds down to a skeletal 120 pounds. In an effort to improve his chances to receive a liver transplant, he underwent surgery to have his colon removed.

Eventually, his brother-in-law, a police officer, proved a match for a transplant. Both underwent surgery in the summer of 2001. It was a beautiful success, with neither suffering any complications in the dozen years since.

Our disability insurance lawyers have sincere hope that every story will have an ending this happy. In the meantime, let us worry about your disability claim.

If you are contemplating an SSDI claim in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
The ‘face’ of liver disease: Beverly survivor selected for awareness campaign, Feb. 6, 2013, By Nick Malfitano, The Beverly Citizen
More Blog Entries:
Chronic Heart Failure Grounds for SSDI Benefits in Massachusetts, Feb. 15, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers’ Blog