Boston Sickle-Cell Anemia Patients Can Win Disability Claims

A new drug that would ease the pain symptoms of sickle-cell anemia sufferers has been moved to Phase II clinical testing trials by a team of researchers – some from the Dana-Faber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center in Boston – with an $11 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance lawyers understand that the research involves experimentation with a drug called Lexiscan, which is already in use for the diagnosis of heart disease. What researchers are attempting to figure out is whether the anti-inflammatory properties of the drug could help to significantly decrease the pain and blood flow disturbances experienced by those with sickle-cell anemia.

Recruitment efforts for the latest phase of clinical trials is underway in eight major U.S. cities – including Boston. Earlier results suggested that the drug could reduce pain and tissue damage associated with sickle-cell, without any significant side effects.

Still, researchers say they are cautiously optimistic.

Sickle-cell disease is one in which normal, round blood cells are altered into the shape of crescent moons. Normally, blood cells would move easily throughout the blood stream. But sickled cells get clogged in the vessels, causing blockages and stopping oxygen from getting through. In addition to being excruciatingly painful, it can cause harm to major organs, bones and muscles.

Those born with this genetic condition, mostly African Americans, face a life-long battle that will include infections, stroke and anemia. That doesn’t mean patients can’t have a good quality of life, but it also means that many times, they may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Sickle-Cell Disease is listed in Section 7.05 of the Social Security blue book. However, a diagnosis alone is not enough. In order to meet the required listing, a person must have at least one of the following:

  • Documented painful crises or blood clots that have occurred at least three times in the last five months;
  • Extended hospitalization that extended beyond emergency care at least three times in the last year;
  • Severe, chronic anemia accompanied by a persistence of hematocrit of 26 percent or less;
  • A resulting impairment (such as congestive heart failure, kidney problems, vision problems or stroke) that can be evaluated per its own SSDI listing.

However, even if you don’t meet these specific criteria, you might still be able to secure SSDI benefits for your sickle-cell anemia if it’s determined that you can not work because of the symptoms of your condition. Determining this will involve a Residual Functional Capacity assessment, conducted by SSA reviewers.

Some of the functions that will be tested will likely include:

  • Your limitations for strenuous exertion and exposure to cold;
  • Your level of constant pain and fatigue;
  • Your constant bouts of shortness of breath;
  • Your pain levels that could affect your ability to maintain concentration or carry out physical tasks;
  • Your vision levels that could limit your ability to carry out most kinds of work.

Any kind of treatment, hospitalization, medications or averse affects from your sickle-cell should be meticulously documented for as long as possible prior to your application of benefits.

If you think you might be to the point of considering seeking SSDI benefits for your sickle-cell anemia, contact an experienced Boston disability lawyer who can help you determine whether you have a strong case and what your next step should be.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

More Blog Entries:
Social Security Disability Bias Claims to Be Settled, May 15, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog

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