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Cirrhosis and Denied Long-term Disability Benefits

By Matt Lalande in Hamilton Disability Lawyer, Hamilton Law Firm, Hamilton Lawyer on February 21, 2023

Cirrhosis and Denied Long-term Disability Benefits

Cirrhosis is a serious, long-term liver condition that occurs when scar tissue forms in the liver. This can happen as a result of chronic alcohol abuse or other health problems, such as viral hepatitis. Cirrhosis can cause a variety of serious health problems, including liver failure, malnutrition, and an increased risk of cancer. Those affected by cirrhosis often confront physical pain, lack of strength and sensation of nausea. In Ontario, cases of cirrhosis doubled from more than 11,000 in 2010 to over 23,000 in 2020. As the symptoms of cirrhosis worsen, many of these individuals may gradually become unable to keep up with their work responsibilities and eventually, stop working altogether.

If you suffer from cirrhosis, there is no doubt that your ability to work may be compromised – which may entitle you to long-term disability benefits. Pursuing long-term disability benefits, however, can be an incredibly stressful process for those dealing with the financial burden of an illness that leaves them unable to work. Being denied, despite long waits and arduous paperwork, can be devastating.

Not only is there emotional stress, but there’s also a strain on financial security. To make matters worse, many individuals need long-term disability benefits in order to survive at all. In these situations, every setback or rejection can mean the difference between getting back on one’s feet financially and being left unable to make ends meet.

If you’ve been denied long-term disability, it’s important that you contact our Hamilton Disability Lawyers as soon as possible. Our Long-term Disability Lawyers can provide the help you need to get the disability benefits you deserve. We have experience in dealing with liver disease and cirrhosis cases and can provide professional representation to ensure that you receive the long-term disability benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment with our firm. Call us today, toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form on our website and we will be happy to get right back to you.

What is cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is the severe, long-term damage to the liver that results from prolonged exposure to toxic substances such as alcohol or drugs. The liver plays many important functions like filtering toxic materials, producing hormones and proteins, storing energy and fighting infections. When cirrhosis is present, these vital functions are compromised, leading to chronic fatigue, confusion, jaundice, nausea and inability to concentrate. Over time, cirrhosis slowly progresses and can lead to a number of serious health issues ranging from kidney failure to cirrhotic cardiomyopathy (scarring of the heart muscle).

The most disconcerting truth is that liver damage and scarring leading to cirrhosis cannot be reversed. When you are faced with a diagnosis of cirrhosis, the only thing left to do is take precautionary measures in order to prevent further injury. Once the liver has been damaged beyond repair, cirrhosis is permanent, which means long-term work disability is likely. However, even in cases of cirrhosis sufferers who can no longer continue working, disability companies do not hesitate to deny claims.

Symptoms of cirrhosis

The symptoms of cirrhosis will vary depending on what stage of the disease you are at. Without taking proactive steps to slow cirrhosis progression, cirrhosis will continue to damage the liver until it can no longer fulfill its essential functions. Another aspect of cirrhosis that makes it particularly challenging to address is that early symptoms of the disease may be slight and easily misinterpreted as indicators of other illnesses or deficiencies. In many cases of cirrhosis, the disease is only diagnosed after it has progressed to one of the later stages when the symptoms are much more indicative of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis goes through four stages, each with different signs and symptoms.

Stage 1: In its early stages, the condition has only begun to do damage to the liver. Symptoms at this stage, if any, are usually mild and may include loss of appetite, weight loss and abdominal pain.

Stage 2: As it progresses to the intermediate stage, the liver’s ability to fight infection is compromised, resulting in cirrhosis-related anemia and jaundice (yellowing of the skin), itching, abdominal pain and swelling, and easy bruising.

Stage 3: Those with cirrhosis in the late stages may have difficulty breathing, extreme swelling of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, mental confusion and fatigue. At this point of the disease, liver function is almost completely compromised.

Stage 4: at this advanced stage of cirrhosis, patients are usually very ill, with symptoms such as confusion, loss of appetite and extreme swelling of the abdomen. Cirrhosis in its fourth stage is characterized by cirrhotic cardiomyopathy (scarring of the heart muscle) and other complications such as kidney failure and cirrhotic encephalopathy (brain damage).

The most common symptom of cirrhosis is a general feeling of tiredness and chronic fatigue. Improper liver function means the body cannot filter toxins and other substances from the bloodstream, decreasing energy levels as a result of the buildup of toxins. Other warning signs include abdominal pain, confusion, loss of appetite, itching sensation, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), nausea and vomiting. As cirrhosis progresses, an individual may experience difficulty concentrating or remembering details and develop cognitive issues.

Cirrhosis and Work Disability

Suffering from cirrhosis is an experience that means not only long-term change to someone’s personal life but can also mean work disability for many individuals. The most immediate impact that cirrhosis has on someone’s working ability is from the physical symptoms of the condition:

Fatigue: cirrhosis results in the body being unable to filter out toxins and other waste, resulting in tiredness. While it might sound like a fancy way to say that someone is tired, fatigue contributes to over-exhaustion and poor concentration, making it difficult to work.

Confusion and difficulty concentrating: cirrhosis can cause confusion, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating, which can further exacerbate a person’s ability to stay focused and complete tasks at work.

Jaundice: cirrhosis can cause jaundice, a yellowing of the skin due to an accumulation of bile pigment in the bloodstream. Jaundice is caused by inefficient liver function, and its appearance can be very obvious and off-putting for many individuals.

Abdominal swelling: cirrhosis can also cause abdominal swelling due to an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. This is a very common symptom of cirrhosis, and it can be uncomfortable and painful, and interfere with daily activities such as walking or sitting for long periods of time.

Liver failure: cirrhosis can cause cirrhotic cardiomyopathy (scarring of the heart muscle) or cirrhotic encephalopathy (brain damage). Both conditions lead to physical impairment, making it impossible for cirrhosis sufferers to continue working.

Suffering with cirrhosis can be a devastating experience. Not only does it cause physical symptoms, such as abdominal pain and jaundice, but it can also leave individuals feeling helpless and isolated which can lead to depression and anxiety. Having liver-related issues can drastically reduce quality of life, leading to further frustration and loneliness.

For cirrhosis sufferers who can no longer work because of their condition, long-term disability benefits may be an option. If you or a loved one are living with cirrhosis and need help understanding your rights, contact Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. Our cirrhosis long-term disability lawyers can help you understand your rights and eligibility for long-term disability benefits.

Disability Claims for Cirrhosis and Substance Abuse Issues

The total number of cirrhosis cases in Canada averages between 10,000-15,000 annually. Of these, it’s estimated that the majority of cirrhosis cases result from alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis is considered by many to be the most common consequence of prolonged alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption results in damage to the liver from prolonged exposure to toxins, resulting in cirrhosis.

Many Canadian disability companies will not grant disability benefits if there is evidence of alcohol use. They will argue that the disability was the result of the claimant’s irresponsibility and use that as a reason to deny the claim. However, what disability companies fail to realize – or choose to overlook – is that many cases of alcohol use are the result of other events leading individuals to rely on alcohol and other substances. The causes of alcohol abuse leading to cirrhosis include depression, chronic pain and stress, among other issues, reasons that do qualify individuals for long-term disability. Disability companies will choose to focus on how consuming alcohol was someone’s decision rather than a consequence of a difficult past. Claimants are often asked to meet certain criteria when applying for disability benefits:

  • To be eligible for disability benefit coverage, persons must prove they are receiving current therapy at an approved rehabilitation center specializing in substance misuse.
  • Although stays at rehabilitation centres for substance abuse are typically of limited duration, when individuals with cirrhosis receiving long-term disability benefits exit the centre – be it through successful completion or due to relapse into drug use or alcohol consumption – they often become ineligible for their LTD coverage as there is no longer active treatment.

Due to these criteria, qualifying for disability benefits can seem like an impossible task for many individuals living with cirrhosis – despite being unable to work because of their cirrhosis.

Substance abuse is frequently rooted in severe emotional health issues.

Substance abuse and cirrhosis are commonly linked; however, there is often more to the story. Mental health issues can be a driving force behind substance use for many individuals – this initial escapism soon turns into an addiction that feeds off of both mental health struggles and physical ailments such as liver damage caused by prolonged alcohol consumption. Mental health and susbtance abuse are two intertwined issues that often occur together. When both a mental health issue and addiction to drugs or alcohol intertwine, it is known as a co-occurring disorder. These problems can manifest in extreme symptoms that interfere with your ability to function at work and home life, deal with day-to-day issues, and communicate effectively with those around you – whether it’s depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or any other combination of conditions.

Making matters even more complex, when mental health issues are untreated substance abuse often amplifies. Similarly, if someone has cirrhosis and their substance use escalates then it’s likely that their psychological state will also worsen.

Can I get Disability Benefits if I Suffer from Cirrhosis? 

Living with cirrhosis can make it difficult for you to perform in the workplace, potentially leaving you wondering about how you could make ends meet. The good news is that it is often possible to qualify for long-term disability benefits if your cirrhosis prevents you from doing the substantial duties of your own job – or, after two years, the substantial duties of any job which you may become qualified y reason of edducation, training or experience. While often times it won’t be easy to prove that cirrhosis entitlements are severe enough to prevent you from working, consulting a qualified long-term disability may help increase your chances of getting approved for long-term disability due to cirrhosis – or in the alternative pursuing your legal entitlements to long-term diability benefits through our court system.

Insurance companies often try to find ways of rejecting claims, especially when it comes to cirrhosis. On the surface, this is a similar disability to any other – damage caused by the liver that makes it hard for someone to keep working. Usually, meeting the criteria for a long-term disability should be enough; however, with many cases of cirrhosis resulting from substance abuse not usually covered in benefit policies, they are typically rejected instead.

Nevertheless, some individuals experiencing substance abuse may be facing mental health troubles as well. If it can be demonstrated that their addiction is due to an underlying condition such as psychological incapacity, a successful case can be developed. There have been several instances where those denied long-term disability benefits on the basis of cirrhosis related to their dependency were able to retrieve them again.

If you suffer from Cirrhosis and have been Denied your Long-Term Disability Benefits, call us today.

If cirrhosis has left you unable to work, Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Our team of cirrhosis long-term disability lawyers can help guide you through the complex process of obtaining long-term disability benefits. Since 2003, Hamilton Disability Lawyer Matt Lalande has recovered tens of millions in compensation for disability claimants who are were going through the worst times of their lives. Stop struggling with a faceless insurance company – and call our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers to get your free consultation today.

We represent disability claimants all over Ontario – and our disability lawyers can help you get the compensation deserve you you. Our consultations are 100% free – and if you decide to work with our Hamilton disability lawyers, the fee is free. We do not charge our clients anything unless we win their case. We are happy to provide you the legal advice you need in order for you to make an informed decision about your own particular situation. Call us no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Southern Ontario region at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential email through our website – and we would be happy to explain your long-term disability rights and legal options to you, at no cost.

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5 FAQ summary

What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a chronic and progressive liver disease caused by scarring of the liver. It occurs when healthy, functioning tissue in the liver is replaced over time with non-functioning scar tissue, which impairs the organ’s ability to perform its normal functions.

What are some common symptoms of cirrhosis?

Common cirrhosis symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal swelling, extreme fatigue, bloody stools, confusion or disorientation, and loss of appetite.

Is it possible to recover from cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a progressive and irreversible condition. Treatment options may help to slow the progression of cirrhosis, but there is no cure. This is why disability benefits are essential for cirrhosis patients who cannot work due to their condition.

Can I get disability benefits if I suffer from cirrhosis?

Yes, you may be able to receive long-term disability benefits if your cirrhosis is due to an underlying mental health condition. If your cirrhosis was caused by substance abuse, it may not be covered under your policy; however, our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers can help you determine whether you are eligible for disability benefits or not.

Need help with your disability benefits for cirrhosis?

If cirrhosis has left you unable to work, our disability lawyers can help. Our team of cirrhosis disability lawyers can help guide you through the complex process of obtaining long-term disability benefits. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with our cirrhosis disability lawyers in Hamilton.



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