Sickle Cell Disease

Massachusetts Lawyers Advising Disability Benefits Claimants

Sickle cell disease, also known as a type of anemia, is a very serious disorder that results from abnormal hemoglobin in an individual’s red blood cells. This causes the cells to become “sickle” or crescent shaped and abnormally fragile. As a result, they do not carry oxygen through the body as efficiently as normal blood cells and can get stuck in blood vessels, disrupting blood flow. Individuals with sickle cell disease may experience intense pain, difficulty breathing, and heart problems. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our disability benefits attorneys have helped countless Massachusetts residents with blood-related disorders in pursuing SSDI assistance.

Filing an Application for SSDI Arising from Sickle Cell Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that between 90,000 and 100,000 Americans currently live with sickle cell disease. Since these individuals often suffer from frequent episodes of extreme pain and limited mobility, many find it difficult to obtain regular employment. As a result, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with sickle cell disease, you may be entitled to SSDI benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Although an official diagnosis is an important first step in making a claim for disability benefits, a diagnosis alone is not sufficient to establish eligibility. Instead, the SSA requires that you show that you have symptoms that are medically equivalent to criteria established in the SSA’s disability Listings or that you have experienced other significant symptoms that have prevented or that will prevent you from working for more than a year.

Sickle cell disease is recognized by the SSA in its disability Listings at Section 7.02. This allows you to meet the requirements for approval of a disability claim if you show one of the following conditions:

  • You experienced painful blood clots at least three times in the past five months;
  • You have anemia that is severe and chronic with persistent hematocrit of 25% or less; or
  • You have had to seek hospitalization for emergency care at least three times in the past 12 months.

If you are able to meet one of these conditions, your likelihood of SSDI approval is increased. However, a failure to meet these criteria does not preclude you from receiving disability. Instead, you may use your medical records, personal testimony, and the expert opinions of your doctors to establish that the symptoms you experience from sickle cell disease have left such a debilitating impact on your capacity to work that you can no longer hold any job in any industry in the United States. If you choose this route, the SSA will complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment to establish your inability to work. This evaluation typically requires more extensive gathering of documentation and evidence, sometimes including the use of vocational experts, but it can lead to a successful claim as well.

Many SSDI claims are not approved at the outset. There is a multilayered appeals process, however, that extends through the higher levels of SSA and sometimes even to federal court. If your initial application is not successful, therefore, you should be aware that you have many additional options to explore, and that an attorney can assist you with. An appeal may be particularly effective if your symptoms change between the time of the initial evaluation and the appeal, or if you can introduce new medical records or other testimony then.

Consult a Social Security Attorney in Massachusetts

Applying for SSDI is never an easy process. Even when your sickle cell disease symptoms meet the criteria of the Listing, the SSA will still require extensive medical proof of your conditions and the symptoms you have experienced. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our Social Security lawyers have over two decades of experience helping Massachusetts patients gather the necessary medical documentation and evidentiary support to make a strong claim. If you are living in the Boston or Merrimack River areas, or anywhere in Norfolk, Plymouth, Essex, Middlesex, or Suffolk Counties, our office is here to assist you. We also represent disabled individuals in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us at (800) 367-0871 or online.