Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Social Security Disability

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – Condition and Symptoms

Leukemia is a type of cancer which affects bone marrow and blood, causing the body to produce too many white blood cells. In some cases, these white blood cells are released into the blood stream before they are mature, and in other cases, the cells are mature but otherwise abnormal. In either case, they create problems for the immune system because the white blood cells damage healthy cells. Under normal conditions, white blood cells are designed to attack unhealthy cells, helping the body to fight off infections and diseases.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), also known as B-cell CLL or chronic lymphoid leukemia, is one of 46 diseases currently classified as leukemia. It is the most prevalent form of the disease. It is characterized by the overproduction of B cell lymphocytes, which are normally responsible for producing antibodies which fight infections. When a person has CLL, the B-cells which are produced are damaged and incapable of producing the antibodies needed. To further complicate matters, the overproduction of the B-cells hinders the bone marrow from producing sufficient red blood cells, which leads to fatigue and all the other symptoms associated with anemia.

Most victims of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are over 50 years old, but the disease can and occasionally does strike people at any age, including children and teenagers. When it occurs in young children, the condition is generally inherited.

In the majority of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cases, the disease is diagnosed as the result of routine blood tests. In its early stages, leukemia does not show significant symptoms, and most of the symptoms it does show are easily mistaken for less serious conditions. When a blood test suggest B-cell chronic lymphatic leukemia, doctors will confirm the suspicion with a complete blood test count and a bone marrow biopsy.

Typical early symptoms include swollen organs such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. These, of course, are not readily detectable. Eventually fatigue and anemia, which are more noticeable, do set in and the body becomes more prone to recurring infections.

Generally speaking, chronic lymphocytic leukemia is not treated in its early stages. Survivability ranges from five to 25 years, depending on the exact form of chronic lymphoid leukemia you have. In its later stages, the disease is treated with monoclonal antibodies and chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation, biological therapies, and transplantation of bone marrow are used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Filing for Disability with a Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Diagnosis

Specific information regarding how the Social Security Administration adjudicates claims involving chronic lymphocytic leukemia can be found in the Blue Book listing for the condition, in Section 13.00 J.2.c. Because most CLL cases are determined by considering the claimants residual functioning capacity, there is also pertinent information in the Blue Book in Sections 7.02 and 7.15, which deal with the hematological (blood) disorders anemia and granulocytopenia, which are characteristic of CLL.

To meet the listing criteria for CLL, you must be able to show medical documentation which shows that your lymphocytosis is no less than 10,000 per mm consistently over a three month time frame. If it is, the condition is further evaluated under the listings for hematological disorders in Section 7 of the Blue Book.

The qualifications for disability benefits under the hematological disorders include:

  • Chronic anemia. Must require blood transfusions at least every other month or have an affect on other body systems which meet a Blue Book listing. Anemia can affect a wide variety of organs and body functions, and each is treated separately for purposes of determining disability.
  • Chronic Granulocytopenia. Must have neutrophil counts under 1,000 cells per cubic meter demonstrated in multiple blood tests and must suffer at least three bacterial infections in the past five months.

When you file for Social Security disability benefits with CLL, you need to make sure that your medical documentation includes all pertinent blood testing results and the results of the bone marrow biopsy. You also need to show results of blood testing consistent with the requirements to qualify for disability benefits (outlined above) or medical documentation showing that your disabling condition has had an affect on body organs or functions sufficient to make you completely disabled.

Your Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Disability Case

Filing for Social Security disability benefits with CLL is often a difficult process because it involves proving disabilities involving a number of body functions, and sometimes involves making a case that the sum of the disabilities to several different body functions is causing your complete disability. It is generally best to have your claim represented by a Social Security disability attorney who is familiar with all of the ins and outs of the SSA’s system.

Claims which are represented by Social Security attorneys stand a much better chance of being accepted at every stage of the claims and appeals processes. When you consider that 70% of claimants are initially denied disability, it simply makes sense to give your claim the best chance possible by having it filed by someone with experience dealing with the SSA. It’s free to have a Social Security lawyer review your case with you. To begin the process, fill out the request for a free evaluation on this page.