The liver is an essential organ, and keeping it healthy is essential for the health of the rest of the body. But there are several reasons why someone might get liver disease, and knowing more about the disease can give people the opportunity to understand their symptoms and take action to protect their health and their finances. People with liver disease might need financial disability benefits while they are recovering from the disease, and some people might be eligible for Social Security Administration disability benefits. Anyone who has liver disease should learn about what steps they need to take to claim their benefits.
What is Liver Disease?
The liver is a fairly large organ just under the rib cage in the abdomen. The liver is necessary for digesting food and getting rid of toxic substances in the body. People might have liver disease because of genetic factors, or they might have it because of a virus, obesity, alcohol use, or other outside factors that cause damage to the liver. If the disease isn’t treated, it can become progressively worse and even life-threatening. But if the liver is treated early, it might be able to heal.
There are several causes of liver disease, including infection. Hepatitis A, B, and C are all viruses that can cause liver disease as can viruses that are spread through blood, semen, food, water, or personal contact with an infected person.
Autoimmune system abnormalities, such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis can damage the liver. These autoimmune disorders are ones in which the immune system attacks certain parts of the body, including the liver.
Genetics can also play a role in someone developing liver disease. For instance, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, and Alpha-1 trypsin deficiency are all genetic disorders that can be inherited from either one or both of the parents and cause liver damage.
Cancer and other growths can also damage the liver. For instance, liver cancer, bile duct cancer and, liver adenoma are all capable of causing liver disease.
There are also some causes of liver disease that are not related to genetics or viruses. For instance, chronic alcohol abuse, accumulation of fat in the liver, and use or abuse of over-the-counter medications or prescriptions also cause liver disease.
Symptoms of Liver Disease
There are several noticeable signs of liver disease, including those that affect the skin and eyes. For instance, some parts of the skin and eyes begin to appear yellowish, or what is otherwise called jaundice. People get jaundice when their livers aren’t filtering out the bilirubin, which has a yellow color to it. Additionally, the urine will be darker because of the excess presence of bilirubin.
It’s also common for people to bruise more easily because the liver is involved in producing clotting proteins. If those proteins aren’t there, the body has difficulties controlling bleeding, including bruises, which are essentially bleeding below the skin.
A type of bile that the liver produces is what gives stools their brown color. If a person has liver disease, their liver isn’t producing this bile, so stools are pale or even gray in color.
When a person has cirrhosis of the liver, the liver is slowing down the blood, which causes pressure that keeps blood in the legs and ankles, which causes swelling. Additionally, some people with liver disease will have fluid leaks from the liver, which will result in a swollen abdomen.
Fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of people with liver disease although it’s not entirely clear why so many people experience it. Nausea and vomiting, itchy skin, and loss of appetite are other common symptoms that people with liver disease complain about.
Treatement for Liver Disease
The treatment that a person receives for liver disease will depend on the underlying cause for it. For instance, if a person has liver disease because of alcohol use or obesity, simply cutting out alcohol or losing weight will often resolve the problem.
On the other hand, other types of liver disease will require more extensive treatment. For instance, people with liver cancer might need chemotherapy or surgery. Other types of causes of liver disease might need medications for treatment. Some people might also need a liver transplant if their liver is completely unsavable.
Additionally, many people who have been diagnosed as having liver disease are told to make certain lifestyle changes. For instance, people with liver disease should only drink alcohol sparingly, if they drink it at all. Avoiding red meat, trans fats, foods with high-fructose corn syrup, and processed carbohydrates is another lifestyle change that’s often necessary. People with liver disease who are also overweight should cut calories. Finally, many people with liver disease are told to exercise between 30 and 60 minutes a few times per week.
People with liver disease should be very careful about following alternative medicine guidelines because there hasn’t been any proof that they can help even if there have been some studies that have shown that there might be positive benefits. But there’s also evidence that many herbal supplements can actually harm your liver. For instance, germander, valerian, mistletoe, comfrey, skullcap, and kava have all been associated with liver damage.
Someone with liver disease should always consult with their doctor before they begin taking alternative medicines.
Disability Benefits for Liver Disease
When going to work because of liver disease or a related condition becomes difficult to impossible, finding financial disability benefits becomes all the more important. Anyone who has liver disease should learn about how they might qualify for benefits through the Social Security Administration.
How you might qualify for benefits will depend somewhat on the reasons why they have liver disease. For instance, cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol has its own requirements.
In general, though, to meet the listing for liver disease, the doctor must diagnose the disease as being terminal or at least chronic, meaning that it has lasted for at least 6 months and is anticipated to last for at least 12 months. Additionally, there’s a separate listing for anyone who has undergone a liver transplant.
There must also be at least one of a particular set of complications. For instance, if the peritoneal cavity or pleural cavity has excess fluid, this is one complication that could help a person qualify. Additionally, hemorrhage in the esophagus or gastrointestinal area, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatic encephalopathy, and hepatopulmonary syndrome are also complications that could qualify someone.
Some people won’t meet any of the listings for liver disease, but they might meet the listing for whatever condition is causing the liver disease. Additionally, a person might not meet the listing for liver disease, but the disease might cause another condition, such as extreme weight loss, that the person will qualify for.
If an applicant doesn’t qualify under any of the listings, they might still qualify using the residual-functional capacity test. This method requires that the doctor make a listing of all the limitations that the patient has. After that, the Social Security Administration will look at the limitations to determine whether or not there’s any work that the applicant will qualify for.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Liver Disease, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.