A type of viral infection, Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood.

This serious, but often curable, disease can cause severe damage to the liver and result in death if left untreated or undiagnosed. This condition is often quite scary as most people are unaware of their infection for years if not decades. During that time, potentially irreversible damage already may have occurred to the liver.

According to The Liver Foundation, in some cases, Hepatitis C will go away by itself in about six months (and this is called Acute Hepatitis C). However, most people (about 75% – 85%) will develop chronic, or long-term, Hepatitis C, which doesn’t go away on its own.

Today, many cases of Hepatitis C are contracted from shared needles (such as among people who use injectable drugs or through accidental re-usage of needles in a healthcare setting). However, anyone who comes into contact with infected blood is susceptible to testing positive – which can be a risk for nurses, health aides, and other healthcare workers. Babies can be born with hepatitis C transmitted by their mothers, and people who received blood transfusions, organ transplants, or clotting factor concentrates during certain time periods may be at higher risk for having hepatitis C. People on long-term hemodialysis are also at greater risk.

Also, while the risk for transmission due to tattooing, piercing, sharing personal care items like razors or toothbrushes, and sexual contact is generally low, it is a possibility, particularly when the instruments used are not cleaned appropriately or protective measures are not taken.


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Hepatitis C Symptoms and Treatments

It is highly important to pay attention to Hepatitis C symptoms as they are often subtle, and the sooner you catch it the less likely you will have long-term complications. If you find that you bleed and bruise easily, suffer from fatigue, become confused, develop slurred speech, experience weight loss and have itchy skin, you may want to be tested for Hepatitis C. Also, if you experience dark urine, low appetite, nausea, muscle aches, fever, swollen legs and spider veins, you should get checked. Early detection can prevent the onset of chronic Hepatitis C.

Treatment for chronic Hepatitis C has improved greatly over the last few years. In fact, treatment will often cure a patient. In some cases (usually when the liver has become quite damaged) you may require a liver transplant. This does not cure you of Hepatitis C, but rather it provides you with a functioning liver. You will have to continue with antiviral meds to eliminate infection and to protect your new liver.

At this time, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C to prevent it entirely. If you do become diagnosed with Hepatitis C, generally the best things to do are follow your doctor’s instructions, stop drinking alcohol, prevent your blood from coming into contact with others, always use a condom, and talk to your doctor if you take medications known to damage the liver. Even herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and over-the-counter medications can cause damage to the liver. If someone has cirrhosis (liver scarring), they are still at increased risk for liver cancer even if they have been cured of hepatitis C,

Does Hepatitis C Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Hepatitis is addressed in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” listing of disabling conditions, in ​Section 5 (Digestive System) under ​paragraph 5.05 (Chronic liver disease).

When considering whether you meet the listing (which isn’t always necessary) for Hepatitis in order to get SSDI benefits, the SSA will pay close attention to your medical records, including laboratory tests and many other possible medical exam findings.

Understanding the details of the listing can be difficult. However, one does not necessarily need to meet or equal the listing in order to be approved for SSDI for hepatitis. At the end of the day, the Social Security Administration is most concerned with whether or not your medical conditions – all of them – combine to prevent you from being able to sustain work.

If the Social Security Administration finds through review of your medical evidence that your Hepatitis C – possibly in combination with other medical conditions – rises to the level of a severe impairment that prevents you from sustaining work, and that it has affected you or will affect you for at least a year, you may very well qualify for disability benefits.


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Next Steps

If you suffer from Hepatitis C and are considering a claim for disability benefits, we recommend you read our articles about the process of applying for SSDI and the way the Social Security Administration uses their Sequential Evaluation Process to determine disability.

This article is presented for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Medical decisions (including whether to start, stop, or modify any treatment plan) are extremely important and should always be made with the advice and counsel of a qualified medical professional.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800) 492-3260.