Slepian Smith, PLLC

What you should know if you are at risk of HCV

Hepatitis C is a potentially serious disease that leads to nearly 20,000 deaths every year. It can cause permanent damage to a person's liver, and unfortunately, many people do not even know they have it.

With this in mind, it is important to understand the risk factors of becoming infected with HCV.

Who is at risk for developing HCV?

People in certain occupations and people who engage in certain types of activities are at a higher risk of developing HCV. This is largely due to increased exposure to blood and contaminated needles. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you could be at an increased risk of developing HCV if you:

  • Work in a health care setting and handle needles
  • Have shared needles to inject drugs
  • Received a contaminated blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Get a tattoo or piercing in an unregulated setting, including prison
  • Were born to a mother with HCV
  • Also have HIV

Is HCV a disabling condition?

There are two types of HCV: chronic HCV, which is a long-term illness, and acute HCV, which is a short-term illness. Acute HCV becomes chronic HCV in up to 85 percent of cases.

Because there are different types of HCV, it can affect people in different ways and it is not always a disabling condition. For some people, the infection clears up on its own or treatment prevents the condition from becoming chronic. Others can experience complications and develop illnesses that are more serious. People with chronic HCV might develop liver cancer, cirrhosis and even liver failure.

Understand your legal options

When someone experiences HCV symptoms that are serious and expected to persist for at least 12 months, collecting Social Security Disability benefits could be an option – though it is certainly never a guarantee. The outcome depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation.

Many people are unfamiliar with the process of applying for disability benefits. This can lead to costly mistakes and oversights. Rather than risk losing benefits that may be available, people with HCV or other serious illnesses should discuss their options with an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability claims.

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