Hepatopulmonary Syndrome and the Social Security Disability Compassionate Allowances Program
Although many Social Security Disability applicants would prefer to have their claim processed quickly, there are some applicants who truly need disability benefits right away—often due to the severity of their condition. The Social Security Administration recognized this in 2008 when they began the Compassionate Allowances program. This program allows applicants with severe disabilities to be approved for benefits in as little as 10 days.
Hepatopulmonary Syndrome is one of the many conditions that can qualify an applicant to be processed under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances guidelines.
Hepatopulmonary Syndrome Condition and Symptoms
Hepatopulmonary Syndrome is a rare condition that occurs in individuals who have an existing liver disease. This condition occurs when liver disease has advanced to the point that it affects the afflicted individual’s lungs. This can result in an oxygen deficit. The condition is considered when three conditions coincide. These include existing liver disease, impaired oxygenation and intrapulmonary vascular abnormalities. The symptoms of Hepatopulonary Syndrome include:
- Low blood oxygen levels
- Widespread dilation of the blood vessels of the lungs
- An alveolar-arterial gradient > 15 mm Hg measured at sea level
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Esophageal varices
- Spider nevi
- Spleen enlargement
Unfortunately, the only cure for this condition is liver transplantation. Without a liver transplant, prognosis for patients who suffer from the condition is very poor. Alternative treatments are solely supportive in nature. Patients who are not candidates for a liver transplant have a median survival of 2 years.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Hepatopulmonary Syndrome
To be processed under the Compassionate Allowances program with Hepatopulmonary Syndrome you must provide the SSA with sufficient medical evidence when you submit your disability application. The SSA will look for specific evidence when processing such a claim, including:
- Medical evidence of existing liver disease
- A contrast enhanced echocardiogram with evidence of intrapulmonary vascular dilation
- Arterial blood gas analysis
- Chest x-rays
- CT scans
- Evidence of impaired oxygenation
- Evidence of intrapulmonary vascular abnormalities
To avoid delays in the processing of your claim, the above-mentioned medical evidence must be submitted along with your disability claim. It is imperative that you fill out the disability claim forms properly and give the SSA with enough medical documentation to support your claim. If you don’t, you may find yourself having to appeal an unfavorable decision. You should do your best to avoid the appeal process as it can be long and stressful.
Hepatopulmonary Syndrome and Your Social Security Disability Case
Most people wait until their claim has been denied to retain the services of a disability attorney. This can be a very costly mistake. These attorneys work on a contingency basis, collecting only 25 percent of the back pay that you are awarded by the SSA (up to a maximum of $6,000). By retaining the services of such an attorney at the onset of your Social Security Disability claim, you can increase your chances of being approved during the initial stage of the application process and will ensure that your claim is processed under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.
To find out more about applying for disability benefits due to a case of Hepatopulmonary Syndrome or to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability claim, click here.