After years of not knowing what was wrong with you, the doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha have finally diagnosed you with sickle cell anemia. That’s why you feel tired all the time, you’re unable to catch your breath, and your eyesight is only getting worse. While the diagnosis isn’t good news, at least you know why you feel so awful—and why you haven’t been able to do strenuous activities in your workplace. Now that you know the truth, is there a way you could qualify for Social Security disability payments?

Sickle Cell Anemia Carries Many Disabling Complications

Because sickle cell anemia patients can suffer a wide range of symptoms, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to those who can show evidence of disabling conditions such as chest pain, fever, rapid heartbeat, severe thirst, frequent urination, and limited eyesight. In addition to these limitations, sickle cell anemia sufferers typically suffer episodic attacks, called crises. These crises usually include one or more of the following:

  • Vaso-occlusion. This occurs when blood flow to the organs is restricted, causing extreme pain and possible organ damage.
  • Splenic sequestration. This is an enlargement of the spleen that causes a hard mass in the abdomen and requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Aplastic anemia. This occurs when red blood cells are not able to carry a proper supply of oxygen throughout the body, causing increased heart rate and fatigue in the patient.
  • Hemolytic crisis. This is a rapid decrease in red blood cells. If not treated quickly, patients can suffer kidney damage.

Sickle cell anemia can also cause secondary conditions to arise in other systems of the body. Patients may suffer gallstones, spleen problems, bone infections, skin ulcers—and even life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke, or kidney failure.

Getting Disability Benefits for Sickle Cell Disease

As symptoms vary, you will have to prove that your sickle cell anemia conditions are sufficiently disabling before you can receive benefits. This means that your conditions must meet Social Security's disability listing for sickle cell disease or suffer symptoms that are medically equivalent to the SSA criteria. Find out which information to include in your application before you send it in with our free book, 5 Deadly Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Social Security Disability Case. Click the link on this page to get your free copy!

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