Patients with hepatitis B and C may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their hepatitis may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
What are Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis is the word used to describe inflammation of the liver. A virus usually causes hepatitis with the most common being A, B, and C. Hepatitis A does have a vaccine and often does not create chronic illness. However, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can create lifelong health problems.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B and C
Usually, newly infected people can be asymptomatic. This means the person can show no symptoms for weeks or even years. However, patients will start to experience the following symptoms for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C:
- Loss of appetite;
- Abdominal pain;
- Dark urine;
- Clay-colored bowel movements; and
- Joint pain.
Acute hepatitis B and C can be acute and the symptoms resolve on their own. But chronic hepatitis B and C disease can develop into cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis B and C
Treatment plans for hepatitis B will vary depending on the level of progression. There is no cure for hepatitis B. An initial blood test and biopsy will be performed to check the level of liver damage and the progression of the disease. Several medications are used to slow the progression of the disease but can cause kidney damage. Your doctor will need to monitor you closely and may order bed rest until your body gets used to the drugs.
Treatment plans for hepatitis C will also vary depending on the progression. There is now an oral treatment for hepatitis C that usually lasts 8-12 weeks. Side effects from the medication can cause extreme fatigue, nauseousness, vomiting, and flu-like symptoms.
Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Long Term Disability
Depending on how your hepatitis has progressed, it may become difficult to continue to work. If your doctor has removed you from the workplace until you finish your treatment plan, you will need to apply for long term disability benefits.
The insurance company will base its decision on the information provided by your medical provider. A positive diagnosis and records that document symptoms like severe fatigue, immobility, etc will need to be provided by your doctor. Your doctor will also need to provide a treatment plan for you. Your doctor will need to provide a list of restrictions that cause you not to be able to perform your duties at work.
Definition of Disability
Under most LTD policies, an individual is considered disabled if he or she is: (a) unable to perform the material duties of his or her own occupation for the first two years of the policy; and (b) unable to perform the duties of just about any occupation after the first two years of the policy. The definition of disability is specific to each individual policy, so you must review your own LTD policy to determine how the term “disability” or “totally disabled” is defined for you.
Proof of Hepatitis B and C
Evidence of symptoms alone will not be sufficient for a successful long term disability claim. You will need to provide medical documentation to support your claims. This will include medical reports from your doctors, hospitals, and laboratories that have treated you. If you provide the insurance company with a list of all the locations that treated you for hepatitis B or C, they should be able to obtain your records directly. If they cannot, it will be up to you to obtain them. Some examples are results from your MRI, CAT Scan, liver ultrasound, liver biopsy, liver enzyme levels tests, and liver protein levels.
It is important to remember to get any mental health records you may have regarding treatment for hepatitis B or C. This serious and chronic disease can cause you to need to seek counseling for depression and anxiety. Provide the insurance company with your therapy notes.
If the insurance company decides that there is not enough evidence to process your claim, they may ask you to be evaluated by a doctor that works for them to ensure they have all the documentation they need to reach a decision.
Work with a National Long Term Disability Insurance Attorney to Ensure You Get the Benefits You Deserve
Your best chance of having a long term disability case approved because of hepatitis B or C comes by working with an experienced long term disability lawyer.
Your experienced long term disability attorney will be familiar with how insurance providers handle hepatitis B and C claims and will help you prepare your application and collect essential evidence. It’s important to note that your long term disability attorney does not get paid until you do, so you can proceed with your case without fear of upfront legal bills or costs.
Although based in Florida, the Ortiz Law Firm represents claimants across the United States. If you’d like to speak to an experienced long term disability insurance attorney about your hepatitis B and C and how it may be impacting your ability to work, contact us at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a consultation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine if you will be able to access long term disability benefits and how to move forward with the process.