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Sickle Cell Anemia and SSA Disability Benefits

Deutsch: Aufnahme von Eythrozyten eines Patien...

Sickle cell anemia is a disease where an individual’s red blood cells become deformed, and the misshapen cells are unable to transport oxygen efficiently through the body. In a patient with sickle cell anemia the red blood cells are shaped like a sickle, which gives the condition its name, and instead of a rounded shape, which allows the blood to move smoothly through blood vessels, the sickle shape causes the blood to slow, blocking blood flow.

Complications from Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition, and it can lead to very severe complications in many individuals. Some claimants who have this condition experience strokes, pulmonary hypertension, severe organ damage, chest pain, blindness, ulcers, and gall stones.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Sickle Cell Anemia

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine a claimant is disabled and qualifies for SSDI or SSI if their condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (a list of conditions and corresponding symptoms which the SSA assumes makes it impossible for claimants to continue performing substantial gainful activity) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing for Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia does have a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments. To evaluate your condition the SSA can determine if you have the symptoms listed under 7.00 Hematological Disorders, 7.05 Sickle Cell Disease. Under this listing the claimant must have, “documented painful (thrombotic) crises occurring at least three times during the 5 months prior to adjudication. The claimant can also have had extended hospitalization (beyond emergency care) at least three times during the 12 months prior to adjudication and chronic or severe anemia with persistence of hematocrit of 26 percent or less.”

As mentioned above, sickle cell anemia can cause a variety of other severe health conditions (blindness, organ damage, hypertension, etc.). If the claimant’s sickle cell anemia has caused another severe health condition to develop the SSA will evaluate the condition under the appropriate listing. For instance, if you have become blind the SSA will evaluate your condition under 2.00 Special Senses and Speech, Section 2.02 Loss of Visual Acuity, 2.03 Contraction of the visual field in the better eye or 2.04 Loss of visual efficiency.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Sickle Cell Anemia through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Many claimants who are disabled with sickle cell anemia may not be able to win benefits by meeting or exceeding a listing and will have to prove through the medical vocation process  that they cannot work.

If you do not immediately meet a listing you may need to talk to a disability lawyer for more information about the disability determination process. Generally, the SSA will need evidence that you cannot do basic work functions: sit, walk or stand for long periods of time, carry heavy loads, reach overhead, or maintain a normal work schedule.

Although your doctor does not have to give you a “note” that you are disabled it is very helpful if your doctor is willing to provide what is called a residual functional capacity form (RFC form) which clearly outlines your limitations.
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