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Baby boomers vulnerable to Hepatitis C and disability

An estimated 2 million baby boomers in the United States are infected with hepatitis C according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public health authorities are encouraging baby boomers to get tested for the disease which can result in serious health conditions and severe disability. The Social Security Administration has a medical listing for chronic liver conditions, including hepatitis C and a five-step evaluation process for determining eligibility for benefits.

Hepatitis C is a life-threatening liver disease that can cause cancer and is the fastest growing cause of cancer-related deaths and liver transplants in the U.S. According to a recent study, more than 15,000 Americans, primarily baby boomers, die each year from a hepatitis C-related illness. In addition to liver cancer, those who contract hepatitis C may also develop a number of medical conditions secondary to the hepatitis C, including a mental disorder called hepatic encephalopathy, a depletion in brain function that occurs when the liver is no longer able to extract toxic substances in the blood. For suffers of the disease and worsening medical conditions, hepatitis C can cause serious impairments making it unable to work.

Researchers of the disease estimate that more than 800,000 people are infected with the virus and do not know. It has been called a "silent epidemic" that can go undetected for years. Early detection and treatment is critical could save the lives of those who have been exposed or risk exposure.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Applying for benefits as soon as possible will improve your opportunities to collect the benefits you deserve. Remember that the Social Security Administration will only pay retroactive benefits for 12 months prior to filing date, so if you are unable to work, filing an application is your first step to collecting the benefits you need.

Source: Beaumont Enterprise, "Incidence of Hepatitis C to Rise Among Baby Boomers; Disease Can Lead to Severe Disability," Aug. 24, 2012

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