Is Sickle Cell Disease a Disability in Arkansas?

Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is one of several forms of anemia that can cause serious medical complications including pain that might make it hard to do anything else during a sickle cell crisis.  For many predominately Black people living with sickle cell disease, their condition prevents them from being able to work to support themselves because of painful crises and other complications.  If you have sickle cell disease, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas.  Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how.

Does Social Security Recognize Sickle Cell as a Disability in Arkansas?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) systems.  To get disabilities from either of these programs, you must comply with the SSA’s rules – which includes having a disability they recognize.

SSDI is a disability insurance program that all workers in the U.S. pay into through their Social Security taxes.  If you have a work history and a record of paying Social Security taxes, you can claim SSDI to help with a disability.  SSI, on the other hand, provides the same supplemental income that retirees receive from Social Security, but it also functions as the need-based disability system.  People without work credits can often claim SSI instead of SSDI.  People who do not have sufficient “work credits” from working and paying taxes can often still receive SSDI on a parent’s or spouse’s record, so you should always talk to an attorney about which program you qualify for and how to get benefits.

Under both of these systems, applicants must have a recognized disability in order to get benefits.  Sickle cell is recognized by the SSA and fits under § 7.05 of their listings, specifically under the category of “hemolytic anemias” (which includes sickle cell disease).

However, the fact that you have sickle cell disease is not, by itself, enough to qualify you for disability benefits.

How Do I Qualify for SSDI Benefits with Sickle Cell Disease in Arkansas?

So, what conditions qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas? In order to meet the SSA’s criteria for disability benefits for sickle cell, you must meet their medical definition of the disease. The criteria for calling someone’s sickle cell disease a “disability” under the SSA’s rules involves a much higher bar than the medical definition of sickle cell, and it is often confusing for people applying for disability benefits.

Doctors usually use a simple blood test to diagnose sickle cell disease since it is usually present in the patient’s blood their whole life – even before they are born.  If you have sickle cell disease, the doctor can diagnose the condition and note it in your medical records, and that diagnosis will be as “official” as it can be.  For many people living with sickle cell disease, the symptoms are not severe enough or frequent enough to interfere with their daily lives or their ability to work, and the SSA will usually not count these peoples’ conditions as “disabilities.”

To meet the SSA’s definition of a disability caused by sickle cell disease, the condition must be severe enough to cause any of the following issues:

  • Painful crises requiring narcotic painkillers at least 6 times per year, spread out by at least 30 days
  • Complications requiring 3 or more hospitalizations per year (at least 48 hours each), spread out by at least 30 days
  • Hemoglobin levels of at most 7 g/dL at least 3 times per yea, spread out by at least 30 days
  • Reliance on red blood cell transfusions at at least 6-week intervals

If your condition is severe enough that you need any of these treatments or meet any of these standards, you should be able to meet the SSA’s standards and qualify for SSDI or SSI with your condition.

Getting a Lawyer to Help with Sickle Cell Disability Benefits in Arkansas

Our attorneys fight to help people applying for disability benefits get the coverage they need.  Paying for hospitalizations and blood transfusions can be incredibly expensive without coverage, and many people living with sickle cell cannot work to receive health insurance and income to cover these costs.  In so many cases, disability benefits are the difference between life and death, but the complex system and the bureaucratic hold-ups in the Social Security Administration might make it difficult to get the benefits you need.  Our attorney can help.

Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, works to help people with sickle cell disease and other disabilities file for coverage.  Ken can help you by going over your medical records and your application and helping you fill out any information you need with the right language to help the SSA understand your condition.  He can also advise you on what medical forms and certifications you might need to prove your disability to the SSA.  Many applications are denied because of missing information or technical issues.

Your lawyer can also help you appeal if you are denied disability benefits in Arkansas.  By filing for reconsideration, taking your case before an administrative law judge, filing for a review by the SSA, or even filing your case in federal court, we can work to appeal your case and fight for approval for your condition.

It is also vital to talk to an attorney and make sure you understand how SSDI or SSI might limit your ability to get income and work while you receive benefits.  Talk to a lawyer today before applying for disability benefits in Arkansas with sickle cell or any other disability.

Call Our Sickle Cell Anemia Disability Lawyer in Fayetteville for a Free Case Consultation

If you or a loved one has sickle cell disease and needs help getting disability benefits, call Arkansas disability lawyer Ken Kieklak today.  Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is available for free legal consultations to help you understand how you can proceed with your application or with your appeal to get the benefits you need.  For your free case consultation, call us today at (479) 316-0438.