People with cirrhosis may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Cirrhosis is a life threatening condition that causes severe liver scarring. Scarring affects your liver’s ability to function.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), people with cirrhosis may receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they meet certain criteria.
This article will help you figure out whether you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits for your cirrhosis and explain how to apply for these programs.
The SSA considers cirrhosis a medical disability if it meets the following criteria:
- It’s chronic, meaning it persists for over 6 months.
- You have documentation of your condition and its treatment history (if any), including medical and laboratory findings, such as:
- Your specific lab results and treatment response meet the criteria set forth by the SSA.
Receiving a cirrhosis diagnosis does not guarantee eligibility for SSDI or SSI benefits.
In addition to the criteria for a medical disability described above, you must also meet other requirements. For example, you must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity.
Substantial gainful activity (SGA)
The SSA defines SGA as an activity that:
- involves performing significant physical and mental activities
- is normally performed for pay or profit (whether profit occurs or not)
In addition, SSDI and SSI programs have separate lists of requirements you must meet. Below is the difference between SSDI and SSI requirements:
The SSDI program is designed for people (and some of their family members) who have worked long enough, recently enough, and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings.
The amount of work needed to qualify for SSDI varies year to year. It also depends on the age when your disability started.
For more information on whether your personal situation meets the criteria for sufficient work history, read this SSA brochure.
In addition, SSDI benefits have the following eligibility criteria:
- Your disability is long-term and full (neither short-term nor partial disability is covered).
- You cannot perform work you did previously or adjust to other work because of your condition.
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to result in death.
The SSI program, on the other hand, is designed for adults and children with a disability whose income and financial resources fall below specific financial limits. To qualify for these benefits, you don’t need to have a work history.
If you’re an adult, to qualify you must:
- be a U.S. citizen or national (although some noncitizens also qualify)
- be at least 65 years old or have a medical disability or blindness
- have limited income (wages, pension, etc.)
- have limited resources (things you own)
- be a resident of one of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands (residents of other parts of the United States generally don’t qualify, but there are exceptions)
If you’re under age 18 or applying for a child, the following criteria must be met:
- The applicant must be younger than 18 years and have a physical or mental health condition that very seriously limits daily activities.
- The condition must have lasted or is expected to last at least 1 year or to result in death.
- The applicant must live in a household with limited income or resources.
If you have cirrhosis and believe that you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits, you can apply:
- online at the SSA website
- by phone by calling 800-772-1213
- in person at your local Social Security office
You must provide complete and accurate information about your condition, treatment, and work history. The SSA may also request additional medical documentation from a healthcare professional to support your claim.
If you have cirrhosis, you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Before you begin the application process, make sure to determine whether you meet the specific eligibility requirements for SSDI, SSI, or both. If you’re unsure whether you meet these requirements, make an appointment with your local Social Security office or talk with an attorney.
Once you have determined that you’re eligible for benefits, you can apply online or by phone. Be sure to provide complete and accurate information about your medical condition and work history.