Receiving Disability Benefits for Bone Marrow Disorders: What Are the Requirements?

Many people who suffer from bone marrow deficiencies have struggled with the condition their entire lives. Patients whose marrow does not produce healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets are at risk of many additional health concerns and are frequently unable to earn a sustainable living.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands the complications of bone marrow conditions and will allow disability payments to patients who meet certain requirements. Once the presence of the disorder has been established, the SSA will determine a patient’s eligibility based on:

  • Hospitalizations. Bone marrow failure will typically require frequent emergency room visits or hospital stays that can make regular employment difficult. You may be granted automatic benefits if you have suffered at least three hospitalizations (at least 30 days apart) within one 12-month period. Each hospitalization can be for treatment of a different symptom of your condition (such as infection, uncontrolled bleeding, or anemia), but each hospital stay must last at least 48 hours.
  • Transfusions. Some forms of myelodysplastic syndromes or aplastic anemias will require lifelong transfusions of red blood cells in order to keep the patient alive. Patients who require transfusions at least once every six weeks in order to survive will automatically be granted benefits. Patients who require preventative (prophylactic) transfusions of red blood cells to prevent strokes or blood clots may not automatically qualify for benefits. However, SSA will consider the limitations of any patient who undergoes preventative transfusions (and their side effects) when assessing disability.
  • Transplantation. If your disorder required you to undergo a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, SSA will consider you to be disabled for at least 12 consecutive months from the date of your transplantation surgery. After the first 12 months, SSA can reevaluate your condition based on your residual impairment. If you are suffering from a serious post-transplantation complication (including graft-versus-host (GVH) disease, organ failure, or infections caused by immunosuppression), the SSA may extend your disability benefits.

The Right Diagnosis Will Help Get Your Disability Application Approved

Patients will first need to have a positive diagnosis of their condition based on biopsies or bone marrow aspiration and peripheral blood smears. People who have acquired these disorders as a result of viral infections, immunological disorders, or exposure to certain chemicals may be unaware that they are suffering from bone marrow failure. If you think you could be suffering from a bone marrow condition, speak to your doctor about testing, and download our free guide, The Five Deadly Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Social Security Disability Case and How to Avoid Them,  or call our office for a free evaluation (402) 933 5405 to find out how to proceed with your case.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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