Social Security Disability and Hepatitis B

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Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the HBV virus. Symptoms of a hepatitis B infection include jaundice, itching, joint and abdominal pain, fatigue, and nausea. Most people who contract the HBV virus are able to fight it off, but some infected people have a chronic infection that causes cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and inflammation. If untreated, cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant.

Social Security does not have a separate disability listing for hepatitis B. Instead, the agency treats a hepatitis B like cirrhosis and evaluates it under the general chronic liver disease disability listing. To see if your medical condition meets the liver disease listing, a disability claims examiner would be looking for evidence that you've had some of the following symptoms: 

  • esophageal varices and hemorrhaging
  • pathologic fluid collection in the abdomen (ascites)
  • hypoalbuminemia (low levels of a protein)
  • encephalopathy (confusion caused by the liver failing to remove toxic chemicals), or
  • high levels of bilirubin in the blood.

Most cases of hepatitis B are unlikely to meet the listing for chronic liver disease, but you can still be found disabled if your HBV infection, or the side effects of your medication, limit your ability to work. Common symptoms of hepatitis, such as nausea and vomiting, extreme fatigue, and muscle and joint aches, make it difficult for many suffering with this disease to function at work, regardless of their serum levels. If you need to rest during the day, if you don't sleep well at night, and you have trouble completing household tasks, tell your doctor sop that he or she can include these details in your medical record. Social Security will include these limitations when it assesses how much work you can do.

Learn more about disability for chronic liver disease.

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