September moves the clock from summer to fall, as the nation’s football fields light up for weekends of hotly contested games. Leaves in some sections of the country begin to turn, as millions of students dive into the heart of their schoolwork.
The ninth month of the year is also National Sickle Cell Month, which increases awareness for an often misunderstood disease.
Why an Awareness Month for Sickle Cell
Sickle cell is a group of red blood cell disorders that includes the most recognized form, sickle cell anemia. The disease develops when red blood cells become stuck in small blood vessels, which slow or block the flow of blood and oxygen to parts of the body.
Sickle cell negatively impacts millions of people throughout the world, but it is especially widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and the Spanish-speaking regions of Central and South America. It is commonly found in countries that experience high rates of malaria development.
Because of the lack of media attention, organizers of National Sickle Cell Month want to increase exposure for a disease that as of 2021 has no treatment to alleviate its symptoms.
How Can Someone with Sickle Cell Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Sickle cell in any form can develop into a disabling disease that prevents patients from working. However, not everyone with the disease qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify for financial assistance you have to meet the criteria that are listed in the Blue Book, which the Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes and frequently updates.
Sickle cell lists under Section 7.05 of the Blue Book. Your symptoms must meet the following standards.
- Require intravenous or intramuscular narcotic medication at least six times over the past 12 months, with each treatment at least 30 days apart
- Complications that required hospitalizations at least three times over the past 12 months
- Chronic and severe anemia
- Lifelong red blood cell transfusions
What If I Don’t Meet the Blue Book Listing for Sickle Cell?
Since the SSA denies a majority of disability claims, how do you proceed with your claim? The appeals process allows you to continue with your claim, but the SSA often requests that claimants with denied claims undergo a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment determines how sickle cell limits your performance at work, as well as your normal daily activities.
Because sickle cell can cause acute anemia, some of the tests that an SSA doctor puts you through might include stamina and/or pain threshold exercises.
You might walk on a treadmill for a certain amount of time and/or complete activities that measure the level of your pain. Since sickle cell can cause vision loss, the physician overseeing your RFC assessment might ask you to complete a vision test.
How Do I Start the Disability Application Process for Sickle Cell?
If you have received a diagnosis for sickle cell, act with a sense of urgency when it comes to submitting a Social Security disability claim. You must submit your claim before the deadline that is established by the SSA. If your symptoms have turned considerably worse, you might qualify for financial assistance under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance program.
Working with a Social Security attorney can help you meet the claim submission deadline, as well as gather and organize the medical records you need to convince the SSA to approve your disability claim. Most Social Security lawyers schedule free case evaluations with clients.