You may qualify for social security disability benefits if you have inflammatory bowel disease symptoms affecting the colon, intestines or the stomach.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis affects over 30,000 patients in the US alone, with a 2:1, male to female ratio. Interestingly, over 75% of these American Patients with PSC also have Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis or a combination of them.
The abdominal disease evaluation included in the SSA's Blue Book includes inflammatory bowel disease, but is not limited to Crohn's disease only. Often times, the IBD turns to other more severe symptoms including Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, which is automatically qualifiable for SSDI.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis and SSA
The liver is the human body's largest internal organ. It is in charge of a number of functions. Toxic compounds are removed, hormones are produced, and old red blood cells are removed, to name a few. It also secretes bile, which is required for fat digestion. Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is a condition in which the ducts that transport bile out of the liver become damaged, resulting in inflammation and scarring. Cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure are all possible outcomes.
Unfortunately, early-stage Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (or PSC) often has minimal symptoms aside from abnormal blood tests that signal liver dysfunction. Symptoms may appear when the disease has progressed to the point where they appear uncurable. These may include:
Less Severe Symptoms
- -Losing weight without trying
- -Poor appetite
- -Unexplained fever
- -Abdominal pain
More Severe Symptoms
- -Intense itching of the skin
- -Severe diarrhea untreatable with over the counter medications
- -Dark urine indicating non-absorbed nutrients from the blood stream
- -Enlargement of the liver
- -Malnutrition, due to the inability to absorb fat soluble vitamins
- -Liver cirrhosis
- -Liver cancer
- -Liver failure
Medical Qualifications for SSDI with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
Although for many, the disease can be controlled through treatment and medications, it is not the case for other, more vulnerable patients. The Social Security Administration has several listings under digestive tract problems and autoimmune diseases which could include any of the following severe symptoms for your PSC. If you meet any of the following life-threatening symptoms due to Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, you are more likely to qualify for SSDI due to PSC (even if its not listed in the SSA's Blue Book):
- -Bacterial cholangitis
- -Biliary stone disease
- -Dominant stricture (especially in the common bile duct)
- -Heightened risk of colon cancer for patients with risk of IBD
- -Cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile ducts)
- -Hepatic encephalopathy
- -Bleeding disorders
- -Liver cancer
- -Colon cancer
- -Liver cirrhosis
Although the exact cause of PSC is unknown, research suggests that it is linked to the immune system's response to an infection or toxin in those who are predisposed to the disease. PSC affects roughly twice as many women as it does men. In addition, many people with PSC also have IBD, however the link between the two disorders is unclear.
PSC can be suspected at first if liver enzyme testing reveal some impairment in liver function. An MRI or X-ray of the bile ducts can then be used to confirm the diagnosis. To establish the amount of liver damage, a biopsy of liver tissue may be required.
Unfortunately, PSC is not curable, thus most therapies aim to alleviate symptoms. While antihistamines could be able to aid with the itching. Some bile-acid medicines can aid in the passage of bile through the liver. Additional dietary supplementation could help to counteract the negative consequences of low vitamin absorption. The buildup of bile can lead to recurrent infections that require antibiotic treatment. The illness eventually leads to liver failure, which can only be addressed by a transplant.
Filing for SSDI Benefits for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
The Social Security Administration is mindful of the fact that PSC is a progressive and rare disease affecting the inside and outside bile ducts of the liver leading to more severe complications with time. Hence, it is important that you keep a progressive record of all your medical information, treatments, surgeries (if any) and whether or not your symptoms bettered with the medications. Your medical history is important to help prove to the SSA that your PSC is indeed severe enough to prevent you from working under substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is listed in the Social Security's Blue Book of SSA as chronic liver disease. However, you must be able to prove to the SSA that your disease is severe enough to impact your daily functioning levels. Your disability examiner may use different types of diagnostic criteria to analyze the symptoms for your primary sclerosing cholangitis. Take for instance, Hemorrhage from varices (varicose veins in the stomach or oesophagus) or portal hypertensive gastropathy (disease of the stomach caused by high blood pressure in the stomach arteries) resulting in unstable blood pressure and requiring admission to a hospital for at least two units of blood transfusion, or one of the following:
- -Fluid accumulation in the pleural or abdominal cavities that cannot be attributed to other causes despite ongoing treatment, evident on at least two occasions 60 days apart over a 6-month period, or
- -Failure of the kidneys due to liver disease, or
- -Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity) of a pre-determined severity, or
- -End-stage liver disease of a pre-determined severity, or
- -Hepatic encephalopathy (decline of brain function which results from an accumulation of toxins in the blood due to liver disease) of a pre-determined severity
Provided your doctor has diagnosed you with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability payments if you meet the diagnostic requirements. Because proving the presence of these illnesses might be difficult, it's better to entrust your case to a seasoned Social Security Disability lawyer. You are not alone in this. At Law Office of Irene Ruzin, we help you in filing your disability application and analyze your medical and non-medical symptoms to prove to the SSA that your disability is indeed severe enough to qualify you for SSDI.
*(Note that this is not endorsing any type of fraud in listing out your symptoms which, if done, may permanently disqualify you from any future SSDI benefits).