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Blood Disorders

How Do I Get Social Security Disability Benefits if I have a Blood Disease?Blood Diseases and Disability

Do you have a blood disorder that prevents you from being able to work? You may be entitled to social security disability benefits. The experienced Orange County Social Security Disability attorneys here at Howard Law can help you get the Social Security Disability benefits you are entitled to. We represent people with blood disorders who are unable to work and have been denied social security disability benefits.

Listed below are the blood disorders and the guidelines the Social Security Administration uses to determine if you qualify as disabled. If you are living with a one of the blood disorders listed below and are unable to work, call the experienced Buena Park attorneys at Howard Law and let us fight to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

Chronic Anemia

The Social Security Administration often sees cases of anemia in women caused by iron deficiency but this is usually easily treated and not a basis for disability. Anemia can be caused by infection, autoimmune diseases, drugs, and cancer. This disability applies to any type of anemia but it must be severe and last (or expected to last) 12 months.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with chronic anemia, you must have hematocrit persisting at 30 percent or less due to any cause with either a requirement of one or more blood transfusions on an average of at least once every 2 months OR evaluation of the resulting impairment under criteria for the affected body system.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic blood disorder with overdominance, characterized by red blood cells that assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape. Sickling decreases the cells' flexibility and results in a risk of various complications.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to sickle cell disease, you must have sickle cell disease or one of its variants. Additionally, you must satisfy one of the following: (1) Documented painful thrombotic crises occurring at least three times during the five months before disability determination, (2) Sickle cell disease requiring extended hospitalization (beyond emergency care) at least three times during the 12 months before disability determination, or (3) Chronic, severe anemia with persistence of hematocrit of 26% or less.

Chronic Thrombocytopenia

Thromocytopenia is a decrease in blood platelets. Thrombocytopenia can result in episodes of serious bleeding. Several disorders and diseases such as leukemia, immune disease and genetic disorders can cause decreased blood platelets.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits claiming chronic thrombocytopenia, you must have chronic thrombocytopenia due to any cause, with platelet counts repeatedly below 40,000/cubic millimeter with either (a) at least one episode of spontaneous bleeding within five months of the date of disability determination requiring transfusion, or (b) intracranial bleeding within 12 months prior your disability determination.

Hereditary Telangiectasia

Hereditary telangiectasia is a disorder that results in the development of multiple abnormalities in the blood vessels that can affect any organ or other living tissue. The danger of this disorder is that life-threatening bleeding may occur.

To qualify for social security disability benefits due to hereditary telangiectasia, you must have bleeding requiring transfusion at least three times during the 5 months before your disability determination.

Hemophilia and other Coagulation Defects

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits claiming hemophilia, you must have coagulation defects with spontaneous hemorrhage requiring transfusion at least three times during the five months before your disability determination.

Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia Vera is a bone marrow disease that leads to an abnormal increase in the number of blood cells.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits claiming Polycythemia Vera, you must have erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis.

Myelofibrosis

Myelofibrosis means a change of normal bone marrow into fibrotic tissue. The three most serious complications of myelofibrosis are; anemia secondary to the loss of red blood cells, recurrent bacterial infections secondary to decreased white blood cells, and bone pain created by a bone abnormality called osteosclerosis.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to Myelofibrosis, you must have either (a) chronic anemia, (b) documented recurrent systemic bacterial infections occurring at least three times during the five months before disability determination, (c) Severe and intractable bone pain with x-ray evidence of osteosclerosis.

Chronic Granulocytopenia

Granulocytopenia refers to low levels of certain types of white blood cells called granulocytes, especially neutrophils. Neutrophils are important in fighting infection, and a low neutrophil blood count is specifically referred to as neutropenia.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to chronic granulocytopenia, you must have BOTH absolute neutrophil counts repeatedly below 1,000 cells/cubic millimeter and documented recurrent systemic bacterial infections occurring at least 3 times during the 5 months prior to your disability determination.

Aplastic Anemias or Hematologic Malignancies

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have aplastic anemia with bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.

For more information on your particular blood disorder and the Social Security Administration guidelines, visit the Social Security Administration website.

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Listing vs. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): How Does the Social Security Administration Determine Whether I Qualify for Disability Benefits for a Blood Disease?

Social Security disability benefits may be available for people who suffer from a Blood Disease. The Social Security Administration must first determine whether your Blood Disease is severe enough to meet or equal a listing at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. The Social Security Administration will conclude that you are disabled and eligible for disability benefits if it determines that you meet or equal a listing because of your Blood Disease.

If the Social Security Administration decides that your Blood Disease is not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, it must assess the work that you are still capable of doing, in spite of your illness or disease. The work that you are able to do in spite of your illness or disease is called residual functional capacity (RFC). You may qualify for benefits at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process if you are able to do in spite of your illness or disease.

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How Can I Meet a Listing and Win Social Security Disability Benefits for a Blood Disease?

The Social Security Administration will determine whether you are disabled at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process by evaluating whether your Blood Disease is severe enough to equal a listing.

The term "listing" refers to a compiled list of common impairments. The Social Security Administration created a set of guidelines called the Listing of Impairments that contains the most common impairments. For each listing of a particular impairment, there is an explanation regarding the degree of severity that the Social Security Administration presumes would prevent a person from performing substantial work.

The Social Security Administration will consider you disabled if your Blood Disease is severe enough to meet or equal a listing.

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What is Your Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Your Blood Disease?

If the Social Security Administration decides that your Blood Disease is not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, it must assess the work that you are still capable of doing, in spite of your illness or disease. The work that you are able to do in spite of your illness or disease is called residual functional capacity (RFC). You may qualify for benefits at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process if you are able to do in spite of your illness or disease.

The Social Security Administration expresses an RFC for physical impairments in terms of whether the Social Security Administration believes you are able to do heavy, medium, light, or sedentary work in spite of your impairments. The lower your RFC, the less the Social Security Administration believes you can do.

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Can Your Doctor's Medical Opinion Help You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for a Blood Disease?

The role of the Social Security Administration is to conclusively establish whether you are disabled based on your education, work experience, medical evidence, and your age.

The role of your doctor is to provide the Social Security Administration with information concerning the degree of your medical impairment by providing the Social Security Administration medical source statement that describes your capacity for work which is part of your residual functional capacity assessment. Your residual functional capacity is what you can still do despite your limitations.

The Social Security Administration must consider your treating physician's opinion because the Social Security Administration considers it to be controlling when making its decision.

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What is the 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process?

The Social Security Administration has created a five (5) step sequential process to determine whether an adult claimant is entitled to receive disability benefits. Children have a different test to determine eligibility.

Step 1: Substantial Gainful Activity

The Social Security Administration presumes that if you are working and that you make a certain amount of money that you are engaging in what it determines to be a substantial gainful activity (SGA). The Social Security Administration considers a person to be engaged in a SGA if that person is earning more than a certain amount of money each month (i.e. net of impairment - related work related expenses).

In 2013, the Social Security Administration has determined that a statutorily blind individual is engaged in a SGA if they earn more than $1740.00 per month while a non-blind individual must earn more than $1040.00 per month. Changes in the national average wage index usually affect the aforementioned SGA amounts.

Step 2: Severe Impairment

The Social Security Administration has determined that each claimant must either have a severe impairment or a combination of impairments. The impairment or combination of impairments must drastically limit the claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work activities without regard to age, work history, or education. For many claimants, the level of proof at this level is minimal; therefore, they usually satisfy the Step 2 requirements and proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Listing of Impairments

The Listing of Impairments details specific impairments that the Social Security Administration considers severe enough to prevent an adult claimant from engaging in a substantial gainful activity and in the case of a minor, the impairment has to be severe enough to cause functional limitations. There is also a durational requirement. The Social Security Administration has determined that the impairment must last for 12 months or long or result in the death of the claimant. If the claimant fails Step 3 because they do not meet or equal a listing then the case will proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Past Relevant Work

At Step 4, if your condition is severe enough to meet the requirements of Step 2 (Severe Impairment); however, your severe impairment does not meet or equal a listed impairment that is the subject of Step 3 (Listing of Impairments), then the Social Security Administration must decide whether your severe impairment interferes with your ability to do any of the work you previously performed. The Social Security Administration likes to look at the work you performed over the past 15 years prior to the onset of your disability. If the Social Security Administration determines that your impairment does not interfere with work you previously did then you must proceed to Step 5.

Step 5: Ability to Perform Other Work

A majority of disability claims are decided at this level. If you cannot perform work you did in your past, then a determination must be made as to whether you can adjust to different types of work. The determination at this level takes into consideration your education, age, and prior work and is better known as your residual functional capacity.

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