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Polycythemia Vera and Social Security Disability

Polycythemia Vera (with erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis) – Condition and Symptoms

Polycythemia vera is a type of blood disorder which causes the bone marrow to overproduce red blood cells. The condition sometimes also causes the body to produce too many platelets and white blood cells. These disorders cause the blood to thicken, which leads to a number of adverse conditions.

Most victims of polycythemia vera are sixty years old and older, though the condition can affect people at any age. Some connection to toxic chemicals is suspected but not adequately proven.

Many people with polycythemia vera fail to show any symptoms, and may never discover they have the condition unless it shows on blood testing. Many of the common symptoms are mild enough that they go unnoticed as well. Common symptoms include:

  • Itchiness after being exposed to warm water.
  • Gouty arthritis.
  • Peptic ulcers.
  • Sudden burning and pain in feet and hands.
  • Bluish or reddish skin coloration.
  • Headaches.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Fatigue.

Because polycythemia causes the blood to thicken, it can cause blood clots. Generally, these clots respond well to aspirin if they are noticed. Unfortunately, many people with polycythemia don’t notice any symptoms until they have a stroke, heart attack, or other serious condition caused by the blood clotting.

The blood thickening caused by polycythemia causes the blood flow to slow down. In some cases, the blood takes twice as long to circulate through the body than it would in a healthy body. People with polycythemia vera are at significant risk for such serious and debilitating health conditions as:

  • Myelofibrosis
  • Budd-Chiari syndrome
  • Deep venous thrombosis
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism

There is no cure known for polycythemia vera and it is a chronic (long term, continual) condition by definition. To date, all treatments for the condition are focused on treating the symptoms and lessening the complications caused by the thickening of the blood. Common treatments include:

  • Aspirin therapy. Low dose aspirin has been shown to reduce complications.
  • Bloodletting. Removing some of the body’s blood
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Interferon injections.
  • Bone marrow transplant.

Other treatments are being tested, and some show some promise of better addressing the symptoms of polycythemia vera.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Polycythemia Vera (with erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis) Diagnosis

General information about filing for Social Security disability benefits with blood disorders can be found in Section 7.00 of the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments Manual, more commonly called the Blue Book. Polycythemia Vera (with erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis) is covered in Section 7.09.

Generally speaking, polycythemia vera cases are evaluated based on the body systems which are affected. This is commonly in the sections regarding heart disorders (Section 4.00), though adjudicators may take into account any of several other possible organs and body systems affected.

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, you will want to have as much corroborating medical documentation as possible. You will need the results of all lab tests which were used to confirm that you have polycythemia vera. You will also want to make sure that all blood transfusions are thoroughly documented and that you keep track of how many blood transfusions you have had. Any medical tests or documentation regarding the various organs which are affected by your disabling condition should also be included in your claim.

Your Polycythemia Vera (with erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis) Disability Case

Because they are adjudicated on the standards pertaining to the body organs and systems which are affected by the thickening of your blood rather than on the blood itself, many claims take a number of disabling conditions into account. Often, even if you don’t meet any one listing for disability, the combination of effects on several body systems is enough for you to qualify for disability benefits.

Claiming Social Security disability benefits can be a confusing process. The SSA holds a very narrow definition of what counts as disability. In order to qualify for benefits, you need to show that the sum of your conditions is serious enough that you can’t perform any kind of meaningful work.

One thing many polycythemia vera claimants have going for them is their age. The older you are, the less the SSA expects you to be able to adjust to new and different types of employment opportunities. Older claimants still have to prove that they are incapable of performing work for which they could reasonably be trained, of course, but the SSA sets the bar lower in terms of how much re-training they expect claimants to be able to go through.

Most Social Security disability claimants benefit from the help of a Social Security disability lawyer. Your disability attorney can make all the difference between a denial and an approval. Best of all, it’s free to have an experienced Social Security lawyer evaluate your disability claim and discuss it with you.