Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with a Blood Disease?

Needless to say, blood is one of the most important components of the human body. Blood constantly pumps through our veins and arteries, supplying oxygen and delivering nutrients to bones, cells, and organs.  It carries hormones and proteins, helps stave off infections, contributes to maintaining the correct internal temperature, and filters waste materials.  For all of these reasons, an illness or disorder which affects the blood can have debilitating physical effects.  If you are unable to work because of a hematological disorder, you may be able to qualify for monthly disability benefits.  How will the SSA evaluate your claim? Our disability lawyers explain.

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Meeting the Basic Requirements

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that hematological conditions are extremely common in the United States.  According to CDC data, blood clots in the lungs kill 100,000 Americans on an annual basis, while another 3,000,000 carry the gene for sickle cell disease, and an additional 20,000 are hemophiliacs.  As these and many other conditions can be physically devastating and prevent their sufferers from working, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers qualified claimants monthly assistance in the form of disability benefits.

However, there are some basic criteria you’ll need to pass in order to be approved.  For starters, your condition needs to meet the SSA’s blanket disability requirements.  Your health issue must:

  1. Last or be expected to last for a period of at least 12 months, or be expected to end in death.
  2. Be so severe that it prevents you from working at your old job or in a new, modified capacity.

If your impairment does not meet the 12-month minimum duration requirement, or if you can easily control your symptoms with medication, your claim is extremely unlikely to succeed.
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Common Blood Disorders That Can Qualify You for Monthly Benefits

If you do meet the above guidelines, you will then need to meet the requirements which are specific to your condition.  In other words, the medical documentation associated with your claim must be able to prove that your health problem is, in fact, classifiable as “severe.”  The criteria for severity are contained within the Listing of Impairments, sometimes referred to as “the Blue Book.”

The Listing is divided by general category, with Section 7.00 devoted to hematological disorders.  The conditions currently covered by Section 7.00 are:

  • Chronic Anemia — Section 7.02
  • Sickle Cell Disease (“or one of its variants”) — 7.05
  • Chronic Thrombocytopenia — 7.06
  • Hereditary Telangiectasia — 7.07
  • Coagulation Defects (“hemophilia or a similar disorder”) — 7.08
  • Polycythemia Vera — 7.09
  • Myelofibrosis — 7.10
  • Chronic Granulocytopenia — 7.15
  • Aplastic Anemias (“with bone marrow or stem cell transplantation) — 7.17

There is no Section 7.03, 7.04, 7.11 through 7.14, or 7.16.  The above list reflects Section 7.00 in its entirety.  However, if you have a rare disease which is not included in the Blue Book, you could still potentially qualify based on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program (CAL).  You can also qualify without being covered in the Listing through a medical-vocational allowance.

Returning to those conditions which are in the Listing, each comes with its own set of criteria which applicants must meet.  For example, if you are filing a claim based on chronic anemia (“hematocrit persisting at 30% or less”), you must need a blood transfusion at least once every two months on average; or, if this is not the case, your anemia will then be evaluated for the “resulting impairment under criteria for the affected body system.”

You can read the full text of the SSA’s blood disorder guidelines here.

Unfortunately for claimants, being approved is extremely difficult.  The majority of applications are denied at the initial stage, and success rates plummet even lower during the appeals process.  An experienced and aggressive disability lawyer can help you prepare the strongest claim possible.  To schedule your free, private legal consultation, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online.

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