What is Autoimmune Hepatitis?
According to the Liver Foundation, Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the liver and causes it to become inflamed. This disease is considered chronic and can cause significant liver damage if left untreated. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is not known, but most researchers believe heredity and environmental factors play a role in developing the disease.
Symptoms and Treatment Options
Autoimmune diseases are more common in women than in men. The severity of symptoms will vary by the person affected. They can be worse if you already suffer from another autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis can include:
- Abdominal pain
- An enlarged liver
- Yellowing of eyes or skin
- Joint pain
- Loss of menstruation
Blood testing and liver biopsies will be conducted to determine the severity of your autoimmune hepatitis. After that, your doctor will discuss your treatment options.
The standard treatment program is to stop the body’s immune system from attacking the liver by taking medication that slows down or stops the immune system. Prednisone is the primary medicine used to suppress the immune system, followed by azathioprine. Prednisone taken over a long period of time can cause your bones to become thin and brittle. Brittle bones, loss of teeth due to bone deterioration, and even diabetes are common side effects from prolonged use of prednisone.
Most doctors prescribe a high dose of prednisone to begin the treatment plan and slowly decrease the dose over the next 18-24 months. The use of prednisone for two years can do significant damage to other parts of your body.
A Liver Transplant
In a situation where your liver has scarred too much, and the damage is too extensive, you will be asked to consider a liver transplant. Your diseased liver will be removed and replaced with a healthy liver. A liver donor can be deceased or living. In the case of a living donor, you will receive a portion of the liver, and the liver in both you and the donor will start to regenerate healthy cells almost immediately.
Living with Autoimmune Hepatitis
Life with a chronic illness can be costly. The cost of medications, co-pays, and household expenses can become very burdensome to you and your family. Autoimmune hepatitis comes with a lifetime of medical needs. Applying for long term disability benefits can help you and your family while you are seeking treatment and recovering.
Autoimmune Hepatitis and Long Term Disability
Dealing with autoimmune hepatitis while trying to work can seem like an impossible task. For example, if you have been taking prednisone for over a year and begin to suffer from weakened bones, you will not be able to lift much without risking injury.
Due to the significant amount of prednisone and side effects that you will likely experience, you may want to file for long term disability benefits.
When you file for long term disability, the insurance company will ask you to have your doctor complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form to determine what your limitations are. This form will explain the most a person can do and will be strong evidence used in your claim. For this reason, we suggest making an appointment and having the doctor complete this form in your presence so that nothing is left off or understated.
In addition to your RFC, you will also need to provide the insurance company:
- Your medical chart from the doctors who have been treating you. This could be your primary doctor, a liver specialist, a surgeon who performed a biopsy or surgery.
- Your lab results, including MRI’s, blood testing results, and enzyme level results.
- Hospitalization notes and surgery notes
Need Help? Give Us A Call.
An experienced disability attorney can help you gather the necessary medical information needed for your claim. They can help you track your deadlines (which are very strict), gather evidence such as medical statements/opinions from your doctors, and communicate with the insurance company for you.
Many questions need answers when you are dealing with disability benefits and insurance companies. If you are not getting the answers you need, give us a call. 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 contact us at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a consultation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine whether you qualify for Long-Term Disability Benefits and how to move through the appeals process.