Wednesday, December 4, 2013


According to WebMD, Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. Symptoms and its complications often include: fluid buildup in abdomen called “ascites,” fatigue, weight loss and muscle wasting, belly pain, frequent infections, and confusion. Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease. 

A 45 year old, who worked as a roofer for over 25 years, retained me after his Social Security Disability (“SSD””) application was denied, based on the vague opinions of the Social Security doctors. I worked with the claimant to get a functionality opinion from his board certified gastroenterologist to explain why the claimant’s liver problem rendered him incapable of working. 

I prepared an OTR that argued the gastroenterologist’s disability opinion was entitled to controlling weight. The objective evidence for the cirrhosis diagnosis was abundant: a hospitalization for paracentesis to remove ascites; CT testing revealing pelvic ascites; and spleen scan and abdominal sonogram that confirmed the cirrhosis, hepatomegaly, and significant liver fibrosis. In light of the clear objective evidence supporting the diagnosis, the only issue was the severity of the condition. 

In addition to the weight favoring a treating doctor’s opinion, I contended that the claimant’s work history supported the credibility of his complaints. The Administrative Law Judge agreed, approved the OTR, and canceled the hearing.

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