• Christopher Le

Can I apply for Social Security Disability if I have Sickle Cell disease?


Patients who suffer from sickle cell disease must meet the following requirements to have their SSDI application approved under SSA’s blue book listing. You will find these requirements listed in the SSA Blue Book of diseases section 7.05.

  • Painful sickle cell crises requiring intravenous or intramuscular narcotic medication, at least six times in the past 12 months, with each crisis at least 30 days apart (also called vaso-occlusive or thrombotic crises).

  • Complications requiring hospitalization at least three times in the past 12 months. Each hospitalization must last 48 hours and occur at least 30 days apart. (Examples of complications include aplastic episodes, hemolytic crises, strokes, heart problems, kidney failure, liver failure, or pneumonia.)

  • Anemia that is severe and chronic, with hemoglobin measurements of 7.0 g/dL or less, measured at least three times within a 12-month period, with each measurement at least 30 days apart, or

  • Beta thalassemia major that requires life-long red blood cell transfusions at least once every six weeks.

If the symptoms of your sickle cell disease meet these qualifications, you will likely be approved for social security Disability benefits through the SSA.


If you don't meet the sickle cell disease listing mentioned above, you may be found disabled if you can show you cant work due to the limiting effect of your symptoms.


For someone with sickle cell anemia limitations might include avoidance of strenuous exertion and exposure to cold. If you have a hematocrit of less than 30% due to anemia, you should be limited to no more than a sedentary (sit-down) job. In addition, pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath may affect one's ability to do any physical work or even work that requires increased standing or walking. Those who suffer from a decrease in vision could be limited in the type of work they can do as well.


As to mental and cognitive abilities, chronic pain in the bones or joints due to sickle cell disease may make it difficult to maintain concentration throughout a typical work day. Crises, which are common in many people with sickle cell anemia, can cause significant fluctuations in a persons ability to function in the workplace. In addition, depression from reoccurring and/or chronic pain is also common in sickle cell disease, which can cause problems with performance, including concentrating, keeping pace, remembering instructions, and interacting with others appropriately.


We’d be glad to help If you have any questions. We’re only a phone call away, 210-885-3408.

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