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Liver Disease and Long-Term Disability

Liver Disease and Long-Term Disability

Liver Disease & Denied Long-Term Disability?

Liver disease is a serious condition that can lead to a number of complications, including liver failure. liver disease can be caused by a number of factors, including alcohol abuse, viral infections, and certain medications. In Canada, over 10,000 people are diagnosed with the liver disease each year. Liver disease can result in symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, and abdominal pain. liver disease can also lead to liver failure, which can be fatal. Living with liver disease can be extremely painful and debilitating and make it difficult to work and support oneself and one’s family.

For those who experience liver disease while still employed, liver disease can mean the loss of income and the inability to continue working. You may be eligible for long-term disability benefits if you have liver disease. However, many people who try to claim disability insurance will find that many insurance companies often deny claims from people with liver disease, even if they meet the policy requirements. If you’ve been denied disability benefits and suffer from liver disease, a Hamilton long-term disability lawyer can help you appeal the decision and get the benefits you deserve. Contact our Hamilton long-term, disability lawyers Lawyers today to learn more about your legal options.

Types of Liver Disease

The liver is a major organ of the body and is responsible for a number of functions, including filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile to help with digestion. Without the proper functioning of the liver, a range of body functions can be negatively affected, from cognitive function to the ability to process food and absorb nutrients.

  • Hepatitis: an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by a number of different viruses, including the hepatitis A, B, and C viruses. It can lead to cirrhosis and eventually liver failure.
  • Liver cirrhosis: a condition in which the liver becomes scarred due to chronic injury. It can be caused by hepatitis, alcohol abuse, and fatty liver disease.
  • Liver failure: a condition in which the liver is no longer able to function properly. It can be caused by liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver cancer. Liver failure takes place in stages, beginning with inflammation, fibrosis (scarring), and eventually cirrhosis.
  • Portal hypertension: a condition in which the pressure in the veins that supply blood to the liver is too high. It can cause enlarged veins in the stomach and esophagus, as well as liver damage. Many complications can occur with portal hypertension, including the creation of collaterals, which are abnormal connections between veins that can result in bleeding
  • Cholestasis: a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is blocked. It is often caused by liver cirrhosis and can result in itching, jaundice, and liver damage.
  • Liver cancer: a type of cancer that begins in the liver, which can be caused by liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and portal hypertension.
  • Hemochromatosis: a condition in which too much iron builds up in the liver. It can be caused by genetic factors, alcohol abuse, and liver cirrhosis. Excess amounts of iron can damage liver cells and lead to liver cirrhosis.
  • Wilson’s disease: a rare genetic disorder that causes copper to build up in the liver and other organs. Similar to hemochromatosis, an excess amount of copper can lead to liver damage, seizures, and death.

From liver cancer to liver cirrhosis, there are a number of different types of liver diseases that can cause physical and mental symptoms that make it difficult for you to continue working. Liver disease typically affects men and women between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can occur at any age.

Causes of Liver Disease

In Canada, the main cause of liver disease is alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse can cause alcoholic liver disease, particularly in the case of chronic alcohol abuse. When alcohol is consumed, it is metabolized by the liver. The liver breaks down the alcohol into chemicals that are then released into the bloodstream. However, chronic alcohol abuse can cause the liver to become overloaded with these chemicals and unable to function properly. Alcoholic liver disease progresses through three stages: fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and finally, cirrhosis:

  • Fatty liver: the liver becomes enlarged and filled with fat droplets. This is the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease; in some cases, the liver can recover from this stage with abstinence from alcohol.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: the liver becomes inflamed and starts to die. This can lead to a build-up of toxins in the blood, which can cause liver failure.
  • Cirrhosis: the liver becomes scarred and can no longer function properly. This is the most serious stage of alcoholic liver disease and can lead to death.

The percentage of individuals who develop liver disease as a result of alcohol abuse in Canada is estimated at 30% to 50% of all liver diseases. Aside from alcohol abuse, other causes of liver diseases include exposure to viruses, genetics and autoimmune diseases:

  • Drugs and medications: certain medications can also cause liver damage, especially when taken in large doses or for long periods. Medications that can cause liver damage include acetaminophen, Aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol. If you are taking any of these medications, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of continuing to take them.
  • Viruses: studies by Health Canada show that liver disease can also be caused by viral infections, such as hepatitis C, and certain medications, such as acetaminophen. Other causes of liver disease include viral infections (hepatitis B and C are the most common) and certain medications (such as acetaminophen).
  • Genetic disorders: hemochromatosis (a disorder where too much iron builds up in the liver) and Wilson’s disease (a disorder that prevents the liver from properly using copper) can also lead to liver damage and liver disease.
  • Autoimmune diseases: primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis can also lead to liver disease. There is still little that is conclusively known about the connection between autoimmune diseases and liver disease, but a few risk factors include genetics and environmental factors.

Liver disease affects people of all ages, but is most common in adults between the ages of 40 and 60. In some cases, liver disease can be treated with medication or surgery. However, in other cases, liver disease can lead to liver failure and death. 

Symptoms of Liver Disease

The symptoms of liver disease can vary depending on the severity of the liver damage. There may be no symptoms in the early stages of liver disease. Ironically, while this might sound ideal, it means that liver disease can often go undetected until it has reached a more serious stage. As the liver damage progresses, symptoms begin to become noticeable:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Bruising easily

Some of the earlier symptoms of liver failure – fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss – can be confused with other illnesses, such as the flu. As liver disease progresses, symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, itchy skin, swelling in the abdomen, and bruising easily will appear, making liver disease much more obvious. By the time liver disease is positively diagnosed, however, liver damage has often progressed to a serious stage. Unfortunately, after a certain stage, liver damage is irreversible, and the liver will eventually fail. Without a functioning liver, someone may experience daily, painful symptoms that can interfere with daily function and working ability and can even lead to death.

Can liver disease affect your ability to work?

No matter what line of work you are in, liver disease can profoundly impact your ability to do your job. The fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite that are common in the early stages of liver disease can make it difficult to concentrate and perform at work. As liver disease progresses and more serious symptoms set in – such as jaundice, dark urine, itchy skin, swelling in the abdomen, and bruising easily – it becomes even more difficult to maintain gainful employment. In the later stages of liver failure, when the liver is no longer able to function properly, symptoms such as ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the veins leading to the liver), encephalopathy (a brain disorder caused by liver failure), and liver cancer can make it impossible to maintain employment.

Without a functioning liver, the accumulation of toxins can affect an individual’s brain function, causing confusion, drowsiness, and even coma. It can be confusing to understand how a condition affecting your liver can result in damage to your cognitive function, but it is important to remember that the liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood, and without a functioning liver, these toxins can build up and affect the brain. The impact of liver disease on someone’s cognitive function can affect people in any number of industries and professions, including manual labour, office work, customer service, and more.

Beyond the physical symptoms of liver disease, the mental and emotional toll that liver disease can take is also significant. The anxiety and depression that often accompany liver disease can make it difficult to function in everyday life, let alone maintain gainful employment. Living with liver disease, a condition without a cure, can be incredibly stressful, and that stress can further exacerbate the physical symptoms of liver disease.

Can disability insurance companies deny long-term disability insurance for your liver disease?

If you are suffering from liver disease, a disease that tends to be progressive and can eventually lead to liver failure, your symptoms may worsen to the point where continuing to work at your place of employment is no longer possible. Naturally, you may be considering applying for long-term disability insurance benefits, which may be your only source of financial resources if you can no longer work. What you should know, however, is that even for individuals who have faithfully paid their premiums to their disability insurance companies, getting denied for long-term disability insurance benefits is, unfortunately, a common occurrence.

There are a number of reasons why the insurance company may deny your claim for long-term disability benefits:

  • The insurance company does not believe that your liver disease is severe enough to prevent you from working: In order to qualify for long-term disability benefits, you must be able to show that your liver disease is severe enough that it prevents you from performing the essential duties of your job. The insurance company may require you to undergo a liver function test, and if the results of the liver function test are within the normal range, the insurance company may deny your claim for long-term disability benefits.
  • The insurance company does not believe that your liver disease is progressive: For your liver disease to be “progressive,” it must be proven that your liver disease is getting worse over time. The insurance company may require you to undergo a liver biopsy, and if the results of the liver biopsy do not show evidence of progression, the insurance company may deny your claim for long-term disability benefits.
  • You have submitted insufficient/incorrect medical evidence: In order to prove that your liver disease is severe enough to prevent you from working, you must submit sufficient medical evidence to support your claim. This may include, but is not limited to, liver function tests, liver biopsies, CT scans, MRI’s, and documentation from your treating physician. Without consulting an experienced disability lawyer, it’s common for people to submit insufficient or incorrect medical evidence, which can lead to a denial of benefits.

It is important to remember that the insurance company is not on your side and that their goal is to avoid paying out long-term disability benefits, even if you are entitled to them. Claimants are often confused and frustrated because disability insurance companies will claim to care about their policyholders, but in reality, they are only interested in protecting their own bottom line. This is why it is so important to have an experienced long-term disability lawyer on your side who can help you navigate the claims process and fight for the benefits you deserve.

Liver Disease and denied Long-Term Disability Benefits? Contact our Hamilton Disability Lawyers today.

If you have been diagnosed with liver disease and are have been denied long-term disability benefits, we would suggest contacting our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers, no matter where you are in Ontario – BEFORE – filing your internal appeal. In our experience, the internal appeals process is a highly biased process – decisions are not made by an independent body or organization, but rather employees from an “appeals committee” who are paid a salary by the same insurance company that originally denied your benefits.

Since 2003, Hamilton long-term disability lawyer Matt Lalande has recovered tens of millions in wrongfully denied long-term disability benefits for disabled claimants were going to the worst times of their lives. Stop struggling with a faceless insurance company – and call our Hamilton disability lawyers to get your free consultation today. We represent claimants all over Ontario can help you get your long-term disability benefits back on track.

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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