Can I Work with Chronic Anemia?

What is Chronic Anemia?

Chronic Anemia is not a disease in and of itself, but is a symptom of several different medical conditions. Chronic Anemia is defined by a severely low red blood cell count. Typical symptoms of anemia include dizziness, fainting, fatigue, lack of energy, and shortness of breath.

In some cases, those who suffer from anemia require blood transfusions.

Some of the medical conditions which typically cause chronic anemia are Sickle Cell Anemia, Kidney Disease, Certain Cancers, Gastritis, Ulcers, Liver Disease and Hypothyroidism. Chronic Anemia can also be caused by a poor diet, especially if your diet is low in iron.

Is Chronic Anemia A Disability?

Anemia is a blood condition that can lead to fatigue and other symptoms, but usually, it is treatable. Some people may have difficulty addressing severe anemia and they may find themselves unable to work. These individuals may not see any improvement of the condition while undergoing medical treatment.

To qualify for disability benefits with anemia, you must have repetitive complications, such as shortness of breath or severe fatigue. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a claimant is disabled. The Blue Book has sections that cover different body systems and each section has multiple listings and each listing has specific criteria that must be met for an individual to qualify for disability benefits.

Anemia is a common blood disorder that is seldom severe enough for disability benefits, but if your condition worsens or doesn’t improve despite treatment, you may qualify for disability benefits.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits with Chronic Anemia

The guidelines used by the Social Security Administration to determine whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to Chronic Anemia require that you need blood transfusions at least every other month.

Chronic Anemia sufferers may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if their anemia is a result of other conditions which qualify them.

Additionally, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you can show that the symptoms related to your Chronic Anemia are so severe that you cannot be expected to perform any meaningful work. Proving this can be challenging, and usually requires you to go through the SSA’s appeals process.

Now there isn’t a specific listing that covers anemia, but if it causes ongoing complications, such as shortness of breath and severe fatigue, you may be able to use Listing 7.18 of the Blue Book to qualify for disability benefits. Listing 7.18 is for repeated complications from hematological conditions. If your anemia causes severe fatigue, shortness of breath and pain, and if you suffer from severe limitation from one of the following:

  • Social functioning
  • Daily living activities OR
  • The ability to finish tasks in a timely manner

While the required blood tests are not specified, you must provide documentation to show that you have low hematocrit and low hemoglobin. You must provide documentation to show that your limitations and symptoms do have physiological cause. You may be able to meet the Blue Book criteria for an anemia caused impairment, such as a respiratory listing or cardiovascular listing.

Anemia is often caused by an underlying condition that may meet a listing as well. Advanced kidney disease can cause anemia, and there is a listing for advanced kidney disease. Your physician will be able to tell you if you would qualify for disability benefits.

A disability lawyer will know what supporting evidence is a necessity to get your claim approved and to get you drawing monthly benefits. You should speak with an attorney early on, so you can get your claim on the right track more quickly, but you can retain a lawyer at any time during the claims process. You should prepare a detailed list of your medical providers and include contact details so you can make sure all your records are obtained.

Can I Work with Chronic Anemia?

Chronic Anemia and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

Because Chronic Anemia can cause you to become easily fatigued, to become dizzy, or even to have fainting spells; it may make it difficult for you to perform physical work. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to show that your Chronic Anemia makes it unreasonable to expect that you will be able to sustain an eight hour work day five days a week which requires any kind of physical activity.

If the SSA determines that you can perform any job you have worked at in the past 15 years, you are likely to be turned down (at least initially) for Social Security Disability benefits.

You should make sure that all physical limitations related to your Chronic Anemia are listed and supported by your attending physician. You will especially want to make sure that limitations on sitting, standing, bending, lifting, kneeling, pushing, and pulling are notated, as the Social Security Administration will use your ability to perform these actions as a gauge to determine what kinds of physical labor you may be capable of.

Chronic Anemia and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

It is sometimes more difficult for Chronic Anemia sufferers to show that they are incapable of performing sedentary work, as by definition, it does not require much physical exertion. You will need to prove that you cannot sit for extended periods of time, or that you can’t perform repetitive tasks.

Proving that you are incapable of performing sedentary work becomes easier as you get older because the Social Security Administration tends to regard those over 55 as being too old to reasonably train for a different type of career than the ones they have performed in the past.

If you are not yet 55, the SSA will look at your ability to perform jobs requiring manual dexterity (such as assembling components with small parts) and any education or previous work experience, which would allow you to work at jobs which don’t require much physical labor.

I Can Work, Not Much With Chronic Anemia

You may be able to work some, but not continue full-time work and earn a living. The SSA has an income guideline set, which is called substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you earn at or above the SGA limit, you would not be able to qualify disability benefits.

As of 2020, SGA is $1,260 per month for individuals who are not blind. If you are earning more than $1,260 per month, then you are earning a living and aren’t considered disabled even if you are working significantly less than full-time hours.

Different professions earn different salaries, so you may have a job that pays $10 an hour and be able to work 25 hours a week and still earn less than SGA. If your job pays more, such as $20 an hour, you cannot work as many hours. At that rate, you couldn’t work more than 10 or 11 hours weekly and still stay below the SGA limits.

You will need to provide a detailed work history including job titles and job responsibilities. Your work history and transferrable skills are considered when Disability Determination Services is reviewing your case to determine what kind of work – if there is any kind of work – that you can do.

There are several factors that come into play, so if the SSA thinks that you could work enough to earn a living, your claim will be not be approved and you will denied disability benefits. If you are still able to work, you should talk with a disability attorney to see if you could still qualify for disability benefits.

Seek the Counsel of a Social Security Attorney

Dizziness and fainting are conditions which may make it impossible for you to perform sedentary work, and should be documented thoroughly in your Social Security Disability application; including dates, times and durations of your symptoms.

Having a Social Security Disability lawyer help you with the application and appeals process can prove invaluable, as professional Social Security Disability representatives tend to know what the SSA is looking for in determining whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you are unable to work because of severe anemia, you should speak with a disability attorney. Claimants who are represented by a disability lawyer are much more likely to have their claim approved so that you are awarded disability benefits. Disability lawyers know how the claims process works and what kind of supporting evidence that you need to get your claim approved and to show the severity of your conditions.

When you retain a Social Security Disability attorney, you will not have to pay for your lawyer's assistance upfront or before you receive a decision. Instead, your lawyer will take the case on a contingency basis. That means that your attorney will not be paid until you win your claim and you are approved for disability benefits. When your claim is approved, your attorney will receive 25 percent of your backpay up to a maximum of $6,000.

To make sure your disability claim is on the right path, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page and share the details of your anemia disability claim with an attorney who handles such cases in your area.