Hey everyone, I know we all have issues with getting approved for social security benefits. This article was written specifically for sickle cell warriors, from the desk of Social Security Help.
Sickle Cell Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits
When determining your eligibility for social security disability (SSD) benefits, you will have to consider whether you are medically as well as financially eligible for benefits.
Sickle Cell Disease and Medical Eligibility
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) adjudicator will look at the SSA’s Blue Book ( http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ ) to determine whether or not your claim meets the published guidelines of a disability under Social Security criteria. In the case of Sickle Cell Disease, the condition is addressed in section 7.05 of the Blue Book. According to this listing, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to this condition, you must be able to prove that:
You have had documented painful thrombotic crises that have occurred at least three times during the past five months; or
You have required extended hospitalization at least three times during the past twelve months; or
You have chronic, severe anemia with a haematocrit of 26 percent or less.
If you can provide the SSA with medical documentation proving that you meet the above-mentioned criteria, your chances of being approved for disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process will be greater.
Financial Eligibility (SSDI vs. SSI)
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, there are two programs that you may qualify for. These are SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income).
To qualify for SSDI you must have earned enough work credits during your past work history. As a general rule, you must have worked five of the past ten years in order to qualify. If you are too young to have a ten-year work history, you will be expected to have worked half of the years that you were old enough to have work activity. For example, if you are 26, you will be expected to have worked for four of the past eight years (the time between the ages of 18 and 26) in order to have enough work credits. Even if you meet the disability criteria but you fail to have enough work credits, you will not be able to qualify for SSDI benefits.
If you fail to meet the work credit requirements to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may be able to qualify for SSI benefits. The SSI program is a needs-based program. In order to meet the criteria for this program you must meet certain financial requirements in order to qualify, in addition to being determined to be disabled. As of 2013, you must not earn more than $710 per month as an individual or $1,066 per month as a couple. Your assets must also not exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.
Applying for Disability Benefits
To apply for Social Security Disability benefits you can go to your local Social Security office and apply in person or you can apply online at the SSA’s website ( http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/ ). When you submit your application, make sure that you are very detailed and thorough in your answers, as these answers will be used to help determine the extent of your disability. Also make sure that you provide medical evidence that will support the above-mentioned disability criteria. You may also request a written statement from your treating physician as these statements can weigh heavily on the outcome of your disability claim.
Appealing a Denial
Don’t stress out if your initial application is denied. Almost 2/3 of applications are initially denied. If your claim is denied, you have a right to appeal the decision. You have 60 days from the date of the denial letter to file your appeal.
It may be in your best interests to retain the services of a disability attorney for purposes of your appeal.
Statistics have shown that applicants who obtain legal representation are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who do not.
Your attorney can work with you through each stage of the appeal process. The first stage is the Request for Reconsideration. Nearly 80 percent of these appeals are not granted. The second stage of appeals is the disability hearing. This is the stage of appeals where you will be the most likely to be awarded benefits. A disability attorney can represent you before the administrative law judge who will be overseeing your hearing and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the hearing process as well as gather additional medical evidence to support your case.
Understanding the social security system is crucial to getting your benefits. Remember, most applications are denied in the first round if they do not contain the main criteria. Perseverance, a lawyer, and dedication are required to get approved.