If the symptoms of your sickle cell disease have made it impossible for you to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, you’ll have to provide evidence of the severity of your condition in order to be approved for disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits for individuals who are unable to work due to impairments caused by this condition. Their Bluebook Listing of Impairments includes a section that lists the requirements for receiving Social Security disability benefits for sickle cell disease.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease is a term used to describe a group of inherited hemolytic disorders in which the red blood cells become misshapen, assuming a sickle shape. This contortion damages the red blood cells, causing them to die prematurely.
Sickle cell anemia is a common form of sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease greatly reduces the number of healthy red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia causes fatigue or tiredness resulting from not having enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.
A sickle cell “crisis” or “episode” is a more serious form of sickle cell disease. A sickle cell crisis episode occurs when the damaged red blood cells restrict the flow of blood through the blood vessels. This can cause mild to severe pain, damage to the circulatory system (such as a Deep Vein Thrombosis) and body organs, as well as a number of life-threatening medical emergencies, including a pulmonary embolism, stroke, and splenic sequestration.
Sickle cell disease can also result in vision loss, malnutrition, jaundice, swelling and inflammation, and infections. For children and young adults, sickle cell disease can affect the development of their bodies.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Sickle Cell Disease
Section 7.0 of the SSA’s Bluebook is devoted to sickle cell disease and other hematological disorders. Hematological disorders are defined as disorders that disrupt the normal development and function of white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and clotting-factor proteins (factors) along with blood cancers.
In order to be approved for Social Security disability benefits for sickle cell disease, you’ll have to provide documented evidence showing that:
- Painful (vaso-occlusive) crises requiring parenteral (intravenous or intramuscular) narcotic medication, occurring at least six times within a 12-month period with at least 30 days between crises; or:
- Beta thalassemia major requiring life-long RBC transfusions at least once every 6 weeks to maintain life; or:
- Complications of hemolytic anemia require at least three hospitalizations within a 12-month period and occur at least 30 days apart. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours, which can include hours in a hospital emergency department or comprehensive sickle cell disease center immediately before the hospitalization.
The SSA lists examples of complications of hemolytic anemia that may result in hospitalization. These include:
- Painful (vaso-occlusive) crisis
- Pulmonary infections or infarctions
- Acute chest syndrome
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Chronic heart failure
- Gallbladder disease
- Hepatic (liver) failure
- Renal (kidney) failure
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Aplastic crisis
The SSA will count the hours you receive emergency treatment in a comprehensive sickle cell disease center immediately before the hospitalization if this treatment is comparable to the treatment provided in a hospital emergency department.
Medical Evidence for Sickle Cell Disease
In order for the SSA to make a decision in your case, you’ll need to submit a laboratory report of a definitive test that establishes a hematological disorder that is signed by a physician.
You can also submit a laboratory report of a definitive test that is not signed by a physician, but you’ll need a report from a physician that states you have the disorder.
If you don’t have a laboratory report of a definitive test, you can submit a persuasive report from a physician that a diagnosis of your hematological disorder was confirmed by appropriate laboratory analysis or other diagnostic methods.
Has Your Claim For Sickle Cell Disease Been Denied?
If you are unable to work because of the impairments caused by your sickle cell disease, get in touch with the law offices of Marc Whitehead & Associates using our contact page, or call us at (800) 562-9830 to discuss your case. We have helped clients all over the U.S. obtain the full disability benefits they are entitled to from the SSA, VA, or a private insurance company.
If your Social Security disability claim for benefits for sickle cell disease is denied, the law gives you the right to appeal their decision, but you only have 60 days in which to file an appeal.
In many instances, a claim is denied simply because the applicant failed to provide the evidence the SSA needed to approve their claim. Our Social Security disability attorneys will be able to review your claim and identify what evidence was missing from your original claim application. It’s a fact that individuals who are represented by a disability benefits lawyer have a more successful outcome than those who aren’t.