This post discusses Social Security Disability for Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC). If you are unable to work due to PBC please read on for how SSA will evaluate you claim for disability.

What is PBC?

Primary Biliary Cholangitis (also called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis) is an chronic autoimmune disorder where the liver’s bile ducts are slowly destroyed.  Bile is very important to the body because it aids with fat digestion and the removal of waste. Without bile ducts, the liver is unable to push bile out of the liver resulting in liver damage and eventually cirrhosis. This process can take 5-20 years but there is no way to stop the destruction. Treatment can only slow the progression.

PBC symptoms start as fatigue, itching and dryness. As the disease progresses, extreme fatigue, body pain, swelling, ascites, jaundice, osteoporosis and weight loss are all common symptoms.  Treatment includes medications, such as Ursodeoxycholic acid and Ocaliva, that help liver inflammation and move the bile out of the liver. Unfortunately, these medicines do not help with all symptoms and can exacerbate others. If medications stop working, a liver transplant is the next step.

Social Security Disability for Primary Biliary Cholangitis

The SSA can evaluate PBC under Listing 5.00 Digestive System. PBC is listed as one of SSA’s chronic liver diseases . It should be noted that acute liver injury is not considered under 5.00. Specifically, Listing 5.05 discusses Chronic Liver Disease.  In my cases, I have seen ascites, hepatic encephalopathy and end-stage liver disease. To meet this listing, you need to have advanced liver disease and most people will be unable to work before they meet this listing.

If you do not meet this listing, you may be found disabled in other ways. You may be found disabled under SSA’s Grid rules if you are 50 or more years old. Lastly, you can also be found disabled if you can prove that your symptoms and side effects from medication eliminate your ability to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity.

In my experience, liver cases are hard to win with SSA. This stems from the fact that the liver is the only organ in the human body that is able to regenerate. Many with acute liver injury can recover when causation is removed (discontinue alcohol use). Unfortunately, with PBC, there is nothing that an individual can do to stop the damage. If you are unable to work due to PBC, you should file a claim for benefits as soon as possible. There are also support groups for those living with PBC.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Rocky Mount, Roanoke Rapids, Chapel Hill and other areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless you win and we offer free case evaluations.