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Sickle Cell Anemia and Disability Benefits

If you or someone you know is suffering from the debilitating effects of sickle cell anemia, there is a possibility of obtaining disability benefits.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sickle cell anemia is part of a group of disorders known as sickle cell disease. It is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells normally move easily though the blood vessels with their round shape. However, in someone with sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells are shaped like sickles and can get stuck in the blood vessels, blocking or slowing blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can relieve pain and help prevent complications with the disease.

Evidence from an acceptable medical source of the following medical findings will qualify an individual with sickle cell anemia for disability benefits:   

A. Documented painful (vaso-occlusive) crises requiring parenteral (intravenous or intramuscular) narcotic medication, occurring at least six times within a 12-month period with at least 30 days between crises.

OR

B. Complications of hemolytic anemia requiring at least three hospitalizations within a 12-month period and occurring at least 30 days apart. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours, which can include hours in a hospital emergency department or comprehensive sickle cell disease center immediately before the hospitalization (see 7.00C2)

OR

C. Hemoglobin measurements of 7.0 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or less, occurring at least three times within a 12-month period with at least 30 days between measurements.

OR

D. Beta thalassemia major requiring life-long RBC transfusions at least once every 6 weeks to maintain life (see 7.00C4).

Even if someone does not have the findings above, they may still be eligible for benefits if they are able to establish that their sickle cell symptoms prevent them from being able to work full-time. Medical evidence of sickle crises, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain can all be used to demonstrate this.

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