We represent Social Security Disability Insurance claimants with many physical and mental impairments that prevent them from performing meaningful work. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that can cause severe disability for some of our clients.
World Hepatitis Day
It is a good time to revisit hepatitis C as World Hepatitis Day is coming up July 28. This day is a campaign of the World Health Organization to spur international response to the disease with a goal to eliminate it by the year 2030.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is one of five kinds of hepatitis caused by viruses. Hepatitis broadly damages the liver.
Unfortunately, a vaccine is not yet available. The virus is spread by contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids through intimate contact or sharing instruments like needles, razors or toothbrushes. Hepatitis C is relatively common, with about 2.7 to 3.9 million Americans suffering from this disease chronically, according to Healthline.
In its advanced form that may cause liver failure or damage, symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle aches
- Dark urine or pale stool
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Enlarged liver
- Cirrhosis (liver scarring)
- Abdominal fluid
- Liver cancer
- Kidney failure
- Hepatic encephalopathy, which can impact brain functioning, causing confusion
- Easily bleeding or bruising
- Leg swelling
- Spiderlike veins on skin
Doctors treat the disease using antiviral medications, which can cure it if taken regularly for a long time, reports the Mayo Clinic. In serious cases, the patient may require a liver transplant, which does not cure the illness. Sometimes, hepatitis C can be fatal.
The Social Security Administration has a list of impairments that are so serious that the agency will find the claimant disabled if its impairment meets or equals a listing. Each listing has detailed requirements for how to meet it.
Hepatitis C may meet or equal the listing for chronic liver disease, weight loss from a digestive disorder or liver transplantation, depending on how the disease manifests. If a claimant's condition does not meet or equal a listed impairment, the SSA will consider how the illness and all its symptoms, in combination with any other impairments, impact the claimant's ability to work.