Liver disease is a progressive, often debilitating and many times deadly condition. Though liver disease can develop due to factors that are completely outside of your control, such as Hepatitis C, it often develops as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
If you live with alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis, you may wonder if the fact that you essentially caused your own illness disqualifies you from receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The good news is that it does not.
Basic qualifying conditions for alcohol-induced cirrhosis
According to Nolo, the Social Security Administration maintains basic qualifying criteria for persons who live with alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis. For instance, your condition must either prevent you from working or it must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. SGA is any activity that allows you to earn more than $1,310 per month. If neither is the case, you do not qualify for SSD.
Your medical records must also demonstrate that your doctor expects the cirrhosis to last for at least 12 months and/or to end in your eventual death. You will not struggle to meet these criteria, as cirrhosis is a chronic condition that can be fatal without strict management and ongoing medical intervention.
Finally, you must demonstrate that your condition has become severe enough that it has more than just a minimal impact on your work-related activities. For instance, common symptoms of cirrhosis include extreme fatigue and weakness, both of which may prevent you from engaging in your usual work activities. If you can demonstrate that you meet these criteria, the SSA will determine if your condition is on the official Listing of Impairments.
Receiving automatic approval for chronic liver disease
The SSA’s Listing of Impairments contains a section for Chronic Liver Disease. If you meet the listing’s requirements, you will automatically qualify for benefits. Per the requirements, you may automatically qualify for benefits if you experienced one or more of the following complications because of your illness:
- Ascites (fluid buildup in the peritoneal cavity)
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhage that necessitates a blood transfusion
- Hydrothorax (fluid buildup in the pleural cavity)
- Hepatopulmonary syndromes
- Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis
- Hepatic encephalopathy
- End-stage liver disease
Unfortunately, even if you can prove you live with one or more of the above complications, you may not automatically qualify for SSD benefits. The criteria are complex, and you must meet conditions within conditions. The right medical and legal teams can help you establish the severity of your condition and qualify for SSD benefits.