Sickle Cell Disease Can Lead to the Need for Social Security Disability

Crescent shaped blood cells are the telltale markers of Sickle Cell Disease.  “Normal red blood cells move easily through your blood vessels, taking oxygen to every part of your body. But sickled cells can get stuck and block blood vessels, which stops the oxygen from getting through.”

What are the symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?

Due to the crescent shape of the red blood cells, individuals with Sickle Cell Disease tend to suffer from anemia, which leads to “weakness, tiredness, pale appearance, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, and shortness of breath, especially when active.”

Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease also suffer from pain due to “blocked blood vessels in bones, organs, and other tissues.”  These blockages also cause swelling in the hands and feet and inflammation of joints (arthritis).  Continued joint inflammation can lead to problems with fine motor skills and walking.

Some individuals suffer complications due to the clumping blood cells.  The spleen can trap too many red blood cells, which can lead to splenic sequestration, requiring removal.  Gallstones are a common problem and can require removal of the gallbladder.  If tissue in the hip breaks down and dies due to lack of blood, that can require the individual to go through a hip replacement.

Sickle Cell Disease is diagnosed by a blood test.  “Most states in the United States screen all newborns for sickle cell disease along with other common disorders.”

What causes Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease is caused by a defective gene that affects hemoglobin.  An individual must inherit the defective gene from each parent to have sickle cell disease.  It is also possible for an individual to have a sickle cell gene “from one parent and another type of defective hemoglobin gene from the other parent”, which can lead to a sickle cell disorder.

How is Sickle Cell Disease treated?

If an infant is diagnosed with sickle cell disease, the “initial treatment includes: routine childhood immunizations and other vaccines; daily antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age; multivitamin supplements with iron during infancy; folic acid supplements daily; and protein supplements if there is a lag in weight gain.”

Pain is managed with over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  If OTC medications are not enough, then it may be necessary to see a doctor for pain management.

If the anemia caused by sickle cell disease becomes severe, then blood transfusions might be necessary.

Social Security Disability

Individuals with sickle cell disability can lead regular lives, but if the sickle cells cause severe arthritis, an individual can lose gross and fine motor skills and become disabled.  In order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the Social Security Administration requires certain proof.  An individual must show:

  • Documented pain episodes occurring at least three times during the 5 months prior to adjudication; or

  • Requiring extended hospitalization at least three times during the 12 months prior to adjudication; or

  • Chronic, severe anemia with a persistently low hemoglobin level; or

  • Evaluate the resulting impairment under the criteria for the affected body system.

Information from the Social Security Administration Blue Book

If you have Sickle Cell Disease and are applying for SSD benefits because your condition has become debilitating, speak with our knowledgeable attorneys to help you.

The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA., Attorneys & Counselors at Law will provide a free, no obligation consultation at our South Florida offices located in Dade, Broward and Monroe County. If you are unable to travel, we can see you at your home, hospital, or other location which is convenient for you. Call (305) 653-5555 to schedule your free consultation today.