Sarcoidosis is a rare condition characterized by the formation of small lumps of inflamed tissue called granulomas. It can occur at any time of life and affect people of all ethnic backgrounds, though it is more frequent in African American and Scandinavian adults between 30 and 50 years of age. The exact cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, but some research suggests that infectious agents, certain chemicals, and an abnormal reaction to the body’s own proteins may be responsible. While some people with sarcoidosis have mild symptoms of fatigue and pain, others may develop severe long-term complications requiring treatment with medications or even organ transplant. These latter patients are likely to qualify for disability benefits.
Social Security Administration does not have a specific listing for evaluating sarcoidosis. Instead, they will consider listings for the specific organ affected. Sarcoidosis most commonly affects the lungs, but can also affect the skin, eyes, and even cardiac tissue. Consider listing 3.02 for chronic respiratory problems caused by sarcoidosis. Listings 8.04 or 8.05 address the chronic skin lesions or dermatitis resulting from sarcoidosis. Where it limits visual acuity or visual efficiency, Social Security Administration should evaluate symptoms under listings 2.02 and 2.04. Those who suffer arrhythmias and chronic heart failure secondary to sarcoidosis may meet listings 4.02 or 4.04.
Even if an impairment doesn’t meet or functionally equal a listing, a finding of disability may still be warranted if the combined symptoms prevent an individual from maintaining substantial work activity. Social Security Administration must determine the residual functional capacity (RFC) based on the exertional and non-exertional limitations imposed by the medical impairments. An RFC can be limited to heavy, medium, light, sedentary, or even less than sedentary work. Further, a claimant’s age category and education level should also be considered as factors in combination with the RFC to determine eligibility for benefits.