Medicare Coverage Allows For Treatment Success
Sherilyn C. Brinkley, a certified registered nurse practitioner and a program manager at the Johns Hopkins Viral Hepatitis Center in Baltimore, advised Pannell on his care. She says he was fortunate to receive Medicare coverage.
What came with this incredibly easy, short, extraordinarily effective regimen was a really high cost, Brinkley says. Ever since then, weve been able to cure thousands of patients just here in Baltimore. But weve had to really struggle with access to drugs along the way. Many are still not able to get treated because of the cost, and thats a frustrating element of this whole process.
Questions About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is found in people worldwide, but the regions most affected are Central and East Asia and Africa. Certain populations within countries can see a greater concentration of the infection, including areas where there is a higher rate of drug use. Because approximately 70 percent of people who have hepatitis C dont know it, over 15,000 Americans die from this disease every year. Here are some of the most common questions about hepatitis C and some general answers to those questions:
Is it true theres no cure for hepatitis C? Actually, this is not entirely true. Patients with this disease can be treated and curedmeaning that after your treatment has ended, the hepatitis C virus can no longer be detected in your blood. It is still possible, however, to have a relapse or suffer a reinfection, and you can still have liver disease.
How do people become infected with hepatitis C? This disease is a blood-borne virus. Its passed from one individual to another when an uninfected person comes in contact with the blood of someone infected with the virus. There are a variety of ways a person can acquire hepatitis C, including:
- Sharing needles and snorting or injecting drugs
- Sharing clippers, razors, toothbrushes, and other items that may have touched infected blood
- Using piercing or tattoo equipment used on another person
- Extreme fatigue
- Urine that is dark in color
- Jaundicea yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes
Qualifying Under Chronic Liver Disease
The SSA has published a Listing of Impairments, which details what conditions a person with hepatitis C must meet to qualify for disability payments.
The individual must have a diagnosis of hepatitis C, proven with a liver biopsy, in their medical records. In addition, they must have one of these conditions:
- hemorrhaging from esophageal, gastric, or ectopic varices or portal hypertensive gastropathy
- ascites or hydrothorax not attributable to other causes, present on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period
- spontaneous bacterial peritonitis with peritoneal fluid
- hepatorenal syndrome, with conditions set out in sections 5.00D8 and 5.00D9
- hepatic encephalopathy
- end stage liver disease
The requirements for these conditions to qualify are very specific. Therefore, a person should review them with a medical professional.
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You May Qualify For Legal Assistance
If youre unable to work for one year due to your illness, you should definitely apply for SSDI benefits. Having a disability lawyer file your claim makes you 2x more likely to win benefits on your first try. Even better, if the SSA doesnt approve your claim, you pay $0 for legal assistance. People who qualify for legal assistance through this website typically get $10,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits. Those who apply on their own without legal assistance often wait up to two years for their first disability payment.
We can connect you with an experienced Social Security attorney or advocate for a free consultation before filing your claim. Sign up for your free, no-obligation phone call with a local advocate near you today and get confidential claim advice. This service costs you nothing and greatly increases your chances for Social Security disability benefit approval.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.
- Megan Kelly
Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange And Other Herbicides
A veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations.
The following conditions are considered presumptive service connected for exposed veterans:
- AL amyloidosis
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How To Apply For Disability Benefits For Hepatitis C
If you are applying for SSDI only, you can apply for benefits online at www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm. You can also call 800-325-0778 or go directly to your local Social Security field office to apply for SSI or SSDI. Office locations can be found at www.ssa.gov/regions/.
Remember that people are often denied simply because they fail to provide adequate medical information to Social Security therefore it is important to give as much medical information as possible when you first apply. Social Security will also ask for financial information and for your work history.
If you do not meet the listing requirement for Hepatitis C, and need to qualify for disability benefits under an RFC or medical-vocational allowance , the process can take well over a year before a final decision is made in your case. Don’t forget that most applications are denied initially and that you have a right to appeal that denial. Pay attention to all deadlines for appealing Social Security decisions, or you may have to start the process all over again.
Filing For Social Security Disability With A Diagnosis Of Hepatitis
The Social Security Administration considers Hepatitis under Section 5.00 of the Blue Book, Digestive Adult. The specific listing for Hepatitis is found under Section 5.05, and to meet this listing for purposes of qualifying for disability benefits, your medical records must indicate one of the following:
- Esophageal varices with a documented history of massive hemorrhaging as a result OR
- Having had a shunt operation due to esophageal varices OR
- Pathologic fluid collection in the abdomen for three months or more that has required removal of such fluid or hypoalbuminemia, which is low levels of a major human protein needed for the synthesis of molecules in the body OR
- Hepatic Encephalopathy OR
- High levels of bilirubin in the blood , on repeat exams for at least three months OR
- A confirmed diagnosis of chronic liver disease with ascites as mentioned in item 3, or with serum bilirubin levels as mentioned in item 5, or with inflammation of the liver or cellular death of tissue within the liver for at least three months. This is demonstrated by a blood test showing abnormal prothrombin time , a measure of how long it takes blood to clot, as well as blood tests indicating abnormal levels of other liver enzymes.
In addition to documenting these requirements, you must also have a medical diagnosis of Hepatitis which is supported by a liver biopsy.
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Gulf War Veterans With Chronic Disabilities
Veterans who served in Persian Gulf or Southwest Asia Theater of Operations at any time since Aug. 2, 1990 may be eligible for disability benefits for several presumptive conditions.
If one of the following illnesses manifests itself at any time following Gulf War service it may be considered presumptively service connected:
- Sinusitis, including rhinosinusitis
Also, Gulf War and SW Asia veterans who suffer from undiagnosed illnesses with multiple symptoms may be eligible for treatment or disability benefits from the VA. These presumptive symptoms include:
- Cardiovascular symptoms
- West Nile virus
The following conditions qualify if they are rated at least 10% disabling at any time after separation:
What Is A Biopsy
A biopsy is a medical procedure. A tiny piece of liver is removed and examined to find out the extent of damage. It involves a large needle and local anesthetic, as well as some risk of bleeding. A pathologist looks at the piece of liver under microscopes to determine how much damage has occurred in the liver. This is a very useful test and used to be done very commonly. However, the procedure is done much less frequently than in the past. For most patients with hepatitis B and C, liver biopsy is not required. Today, other tests can be used to try to estimate the fibrosis in the liver.
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Your Hepatitis Disability Case
If you are disabled because of Hepatitis that is so severe it prevents you from working, you may well be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Working closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security disability attorney or advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim in front of the Disability Determination Services can help to ensure that your Hepatitis disability case will have the highest possible chance of success. By filling out this quick evaluation form, you can get more information about your case and potentially a lawyer willing to represent you.
Chronic Renal Disease And Patients On Dialysis
Bacterial and viral infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in people with renal disease or who are undergoing chronic dialysis . People with chronic renal disease and dialysis may have mild defects in T cell function, while in individuals with nephrotic syndrome, urinary loss of antibody may occur. Because these persons are also in frequent contact with the health care system, they are at greater risk of infection from vaccine preventable diseases.
People with chronic renal disease or those who are undergoing dialysis should receive all routine vaccinations, including annual influenza vaccine. In addition to routine immunization, hepatitis B and pneumococcal vaccines are recommended. Since individuals with impaired renal function may experience a less than optimal response to immunization, higher vaccine doses and re-immunization may be required. Refer to Influenza Vaccine, Hepatitis B Vaccine, Pneumococcal Vaccine and Table 1 for additional information. Refer to Immunization of Immunocompromised Persons in Part 3 for additional information about renal transplant candidates and recipients.
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Appeal Your Insurance Companys Decision
Some people give up when their insurance provider denies treatment for hepatitis C. But you can fight their decision by writing an appeal letter.
Keep in mind, though, that the appeals process can be lengthy. And you might have to appeal the decision more than once.
Insurance companies vary, so contact your provider for information on its appeals process.
If possible, get your doctor involved, too. They can write a letter explaining the need for treatment.
Laboratory Findings Associated With Liver Disease
With liver disease, blood tests may show increased liver enzymes, increased serum total bilirubin, increased ammonia levels, decreased serum albumin, and abnormal coagulation studies, such as increased International Normalized Ratio or decreased platelet counts.
Abnormally low serum albumin or elevated INR levels indicate loss of liver function, with increased likelihood of cirrhosis and associated complications. However, other abnormal lab tests, such as liver enzymes, serum total bilirubin, or ammonia levels, may have a poor correlation with the severity of liver disease and functional ability.
A liver biopsy may demonstrate the degree of liver cell necrosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. If you have had a liver biopsy, the Social Security Administration will make every reasonable effort to obtain the results however, it will not pay for you to have one.
Imaging studies may show the size and consistency of the liver and document ascites .
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How Can I Make A Difference For People With Hepatitis C
Anyone can help raise awareness about this widespread disease. Citizens can write letters to their state representatives or local newspapers and get involved in volunteer efforts with liver disease or Veteran-affiliated organizations . Speaking at support groups and sharing your experience is also a good way to help others with HCV.
Meeting The Chronic Liver Disease Listing
If you’ve suffered liver damage, you may be able to meet the requirements of Social Security’s listing for chronic liver disease, listing 5.05. To meet the listing for chronic liver disease, you’ll have to show that your liver has been severely damaged, not just that you have a hepatitis infection. You must have had a complication such as internal bleeding, fluid in the abdominal or pleural cavity, or hepatorenal or hepatopulmonary syndrome. For information on the details, see our article on getting disability for liver disease.
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Can I Get Disability Benefits For Having Hepatitis C
Those born between 1945 and 1965 have a higher than normal risk for infection with the hepatitis C virus. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all Americans born during that 20-year span get tested by their doctors to know their status.
With that in mind, many baby boomers who learn that they are infected with hepatitis C wonder whether that status qualifies them to receive disability benefits from Social Security. However, simply being diagnosed with the virus does not automatically mean that someone qualifies for disability based solely on this diagnosis.
If the hepatitis C virus has already caused significant damage to the liver, the patients may be diagnosed with chronic liver disease. Some may then qualify to receive disability benefits.
How does the Social Security Administration evaluate chronic liver disease?
Chronic liver disease is diagnosed when the liver is scarred, inflamed and/or dead cells and tissue are present. If the illness continues for 180 days or more, a diagnosis of chronic liver disease can be made.
The disease consists of a continuum of symptoms that will eventually be terminal. Some patients experience portal hypertension or have the flow of bile get blocked. Others proceed to develop cirrhosis and wind up with liver cancer.
Denied Veterans Claims For Hepatitis C Disability
Thousands of veterans have been infected with Hepatitis C during their service to our country, many of whom served as medics, nurses and doctors. The battlefield and other military conditions heighten the possibility for the transfer of the virus.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes viral hepatitis and HCV in the VA schedule for rating disabilities. Hepatitis C is listed under the Section for The Digestive System.
Because the disease can remain silent in the body for so long, many military men and women exposed to the virus are unaware they have it. Veterans who served in the decades before HCV was discovered may not have been diagnosed until much later. Therefore, its difficult to prove that the infection was service-connected. In order to show the connection, youll need to meet these requirements:
- Have a current HCV diagnosis. While the VA is required to test you, a diagnosis from a private physician is also suggested
- Demonstrate that your HCV is service connected. As a blood borne disease, you must show that during your time in service, you received:
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Chronic Salicylate Therapy In Children
Individuals less than 18 years of age receiving low doses of salicylate therapy are not considered to be at increased risk of bleeding complications following immunization. However, for children and adolescents on chronic salicylate therapy, special consideration must be given when administering live influenza and varicella vaccines because of an association between wild-type infection, salicylate therapy and Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome, which causes damage to the brain and liver, is a rare complication that most commonly occurs in children taking ASA at the time of wild-type infection with these viruses.
Children and adolescents with conditions treated for long periods with ASA are at high risk of influenza-related complications and should receive inactivated influenza vaccine annually. LAIV should not be administered to children currently receiving ASA. Refer to Influenza Vaccine in Part 4 for additional information.
Health care providers should weigh the theoretical risks associated with varicella vaccine against the known risks associated with wild-type varicella infection. Because adverse events have not been reported with the use of salicylates after varicella immunization, people with conditions requiring chronic salicylate therapy should be considered for immunization, with close subsequent monitoring. Refer to Varicella Vaccine in Part 4 for additional information.
Hepatitis C Disability Insurance Benefit Claim Help
The hepatitis C virus, also called HCV, is considered to be among the most serious of the hepatitis viruses. A hepatitis C infection usually produces no signs or symptoms during its earliest stages. However, individuals diagnosed with hepatitis C may qualify for disability benefits if they are unable to work or perform daily activities as a result of the chronic illness. Claimants with hepatitis C must meet specific guidelines in order to have their disability claim approved. Our disability insurance attorneys can help you file your hepatitis C disability benefit application as well as discuss whether you meet these strict requirements.
Talk with us today to learn more about how we can assist you if a disability insurance company has limited or denied your claim for hepatitis C disability benefits. Most claimants diagnosed with Hep C undergo interferon treatment. Unfortunately many clients experience disabling cognitive difficulties and extreme fatigue as a result of the medications available for Hep C. Many disability carriers expect a claimant to return to work as soon as they begin to have normal blood test results.
Unfortunately, normal blood test results do not mean a person is able to return to work and commit to 8 hours a day of regular.
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