You can receive Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income Benefits if you are not currently working (as defined by Social Security’s standards) and you meet the medical criteria for benefits. Social Security’s medical criteria allow you to receive Social Security Disability or SSI benefits for 1 year after receiving a liver transplant under “listing” 5.09. After this year, Social Security may evaluate your condition.
Myth #1: You need a transplant before you can apply for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits.
False. While it is true that those who have had a liver transplant in Minnesota can receive benefits, you do not need to wait until you have the transplant before applying for benefits. In our experience, most people undergoing a liver transplant have already been sick and unable to work for a long period of time.
Myth #2: You need to stop working entirely before applying for Social Security benefits.
False. Social Security allows you to apply for benefits as long as you are earning less than a set amount per month, called “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). Health problems leading to a liver transplant can keep you from working full-time. Depending on your hours and gross pay, you may apply in the first month your gross monthly earnings fall below SGA. For the annual SGA level, click here: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html
Myth #3: You should give up applying for benefits for liver problems if you are denied at the first level.
False. Unless you and your doctor really think your health is good enough to earn above Social Security’s monthly SGA level (see above), liver complications that may lead to a transplant, such as fatigue and particular kinds of swelling, can absolutely allow an eventual approval for benefits. You just have to keep appealing.
Who makes these early denials? State agencies make the first two decisions in your claim before you can meet a judge. Many of their decisions can be quite short-sighted and set up for failure, as national hearing-level overturn rates reveal. For example, regulations require state agencies to ask your treating doctor for an opinion about your condition. They find loop-holes to avoid this. Also, some state agencies who make the first two decisions for SSA routinely monitor their approvals and review up to half of them. In this hostile environment, your appeals that get to a hearing are your only reasonable response. At Hoglund Law Offices, our licensed lawyers and staff help you apply and appeal your Social Security disability claim. Only licensed lawyers are at hearings.
Myth #4: My decision to apply for Social Security benefits for liver problems has nothing to do with my doctor.
False. In our experience, you should discuss your ability to work with your doctor. If your medical limitations from chronic liver disease don’t allow you to work above SGA (see above), or if you are over 50 and can’t return to your past work (when special rules apply), you should apply and plan to appeal any denials.
Talking with your doctor about your work limitations offers a two-fold benefit. First, if your doctor thinks you can work, this medical advice can help you continue earning an income without unduly risking health complications. Second, if your doctor thinks you cannot work, or can no longer work over time, your medical limitations should be reasonably clear in your medical record. In this latter situation, the Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) at your hearing should have enough medical evidence about your limitations over time to give you a fair chance of approval — especially if you ultimately undergo a liver transplant.