An inherited disease mostly affecting African-Americans and Hispanics, sickle cell anemia involves abnormally shaped red blood cells that cannot carry sufficient oxygen throughout the body. The “sickle” shape of red blood cells contributes to the stickiness and rigidity of the cells. Consequently, these cells adhere to blood vessel linings, causing patients to suffer from lack of oxygen and normal blood flow. Sickle cell anemia is not curable but treatments are available to reduce pain and risk of complications. Symptoms of sickle cell anemia include joint, chest and stomach pain, fatigue, painful swelling of the feet and hands, chronic infections and vision problems.
How Does the SSA Determine Eligibility for Disability Benefits for Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is listed under hematological disorders in the SSA Blue Book of qualifying medical conditions. To prove a diagnosis of sickle cell, applicants need to submit lab reports signed by one or more physicians. Common tests used to detect sickle cell anemia include Hemoglobin S Evaluation, Hemoglobin Isoelectric, Hemoglobin Electrophoresis and complete blood counts.
The SSA considers the following factors in approving or disapproving a disability benefits claim for sickle cell anemia:
- Applicants must prove they have suffered “painful crises” requiring IV narcotics or injections at least six time within one year. Episodes must be 30 or more days apart
- Complications arising from sickle cell anemia that put the applicant in the hospital at least three times within one year. Each hospitalization must last 48 hours or more.
- A hemoglobin measurement of seven grams or less (three or more times within one year)
Applicants need to meet at least one of these qualifying factors before the SSA may approve them for Social Security disability.
What Happens If a Claimant Fails to Meet SSA Criteria for Sickle Cell Anemia Benefits?
The SSA offers a residual functioning capacity evaluation form allowing doctors to report exactly what their patient can do physical and/or mentally. If someone with sickle cell anemia is denied disability benefits, they could still get approval by having their doctor submit an RFC.
Sickle cell anemia sufferers can avoid denials, delays and appeals by having an experienced disability attorney handle their case. Call London Disability today to schedule an appointment with one of our SSA lawyers.