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Applying for Social Security Disability with Hepatitis C

Severe forms of Hepatitis C can make it hard for you to continue working. Fortunately, disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are available to provide financial relief.

Hep C qualifies you medically for disability benefits, as long as your medical records meet the listing for the condition in the SSA’s Blue Book and you meet the financial eligibility requirements to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) as well.

Qualifying Financially for Disability

The SSA has two disability programs for which you may qualify with Hep C and both have financial criteria you must meet.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – you must have worked and paid into the SSDI program through Social Security taxes (FICA), and have built up sufficient work credits. You must additionally have an income below what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity (SGA), which for 2013 is set at $1,040 per month.  For more information on the necessary credits to qualify for SSDI, visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – you must have very limited income and other financial resources or assets. SSI is a need-based program and has very strict financial threshold limits for qualification. Fore more information on asset and income limits fro SSI visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi

 

Qualifying Medically with Hepatitis C

While Hep C can automatically qualify you for SSD benefits, you must have more than a diagnosis to meet the SSA’s evidentiary requirements. Through your application and medical records, you must show:

  • Your symptoms are severe enough to prevent gainful employment,

And/OR

  •  the effects of your treatments also limit your ability to work and earn a living.

To prove the severity level of your Hep C in order to qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the listing in the SSA’s Blue Book (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/). That listing appears under Section 5.05 and requires one of the following is well documented in your medical records:

  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging requiring blood transfusions
  • Chronic development of fluid around the lungs or in the abdomen
  • Recurrent bacterial infections and fluid in the abdomen
  • Kidney failure resulting from cirrhosis
  • Hepatopulmary syndrome
  • Encephalopathy
  • End stage liver failure

Applying for Benefits

You can complete your application in person at your local SSA office or via the SSA’s website (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm), which is usually the faster method for submitting a claim.  If you apply in person, you will need to schedule an appointment. Online applications can be completed at any time.

You should receive a decision on your claim within three to six months. Unfortunately, more than 60% of Initial claims are denied. If your claim is among the denied you will have to file a request for reconsideration with 60 days of receiving your denial notice.

If your reconsideration is denied as well, you will have to request to have a disability hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing you will be able to present evidence and arguments as to why you need disability benefits. It is in your best interest to hire a disability attorney or advocate who is familiar with the hearing process prior to attending your hearing.

 

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
Feel free to forward any questions related to Hepatitis C and Social Security Disability to ram@ssd-help.org.