If you suffer from polycythemia vera, which is a serious disease that can result in death, you may be unable to work. In those situations, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which provides monthly benefits to disabled workers.
In order to be eligible for SSDI, you have to have worked enough to pay in sufficient taxes to the SSA and to have earned an adequate amount of credits. The monthly benefits paid through SSDI can help relieve the financial stress of being unable to work. In some instances, you may have dependents who are also eligible to receive benefits if you approved.
Polycythemia vera is a disorder that impacts the body’s bone marrow. If you suffer from this condition, your body creates too many red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. The over-production of red blood cells can cause a variety of symptoms, including some which are life-threatening. The rare condition is progressive in nature despite a slow development. Early on, you will experience few, if any, symptoms at all. The condition is usually discovered during routine blood work, so treatment gets underway early on.
The symptoms vary significantly because of the severity of the case and the stage of the disease. During the progression of the disease, common symptoms include redness of skin, shortness of breath, itchy skin after bathing, headaches, dizziness, numbness and tingling of the extremities, upper-abdominal bloating, and chronic fatigue. While some symptoms are just inconvenient, others can be life-threatening. If left untreated, you could experience an enlarged spleen, peptic ulcers, blood disorders, gout, open sores in the small intestine, and life-threatening blood clots.
Because there is no cure for this disease, your doctor will focus on taking routine blood tests and prescribing medications that will hinder your bone marrow’s ability to create red blood cells. Because of the severity of the symptoms, many people are left unable to work.
The Cost of Treating Polycythemia Vera
Polycythemia vera is a serious condition that requires ongoing treatment for its symptoms. You will have regular doctor visits, occasional hospitalizations, and medications. According to the American Family Physician, the cost of treating the disorder can be as high as $10,000 or more per year. With adequate treatment, your lifespan can expand by 10 years or more, according to the study.
If left untreated, the average lifespan is 6 to 18 months after the disease onset. Early diagnosis and treatment is imperative in ensuring a better outcome for your treatment of the disorder. Regular medical treatment is necessary for your treatment plan.
Medical Qualifications and the SSA Evaluation
The medical guide used by the SSA to determine disability is called the Blue Book. Polycythemia vera is listed under Section 7.09 of the book, which has specific criteria that indicate that you have to suffer from the disease. Your medical documentation should provide evidence that you do experience these symptoms and their severity.
In order to be approved per the criteria, your polycythemia vera disorder must cause you to suffer with:
- Increased red blood cells
- Abnormal enlargement of the spleen
- High white blood cells
- Too many platelets
Because the condition can vary greatly, a simple diagnosis is not sufficient for approval. All of your symptoms need to be clearly noted in your records as well.
Disability Determination Services will review your file and all of your medical records to determine that your condition does meet the impairment criteria that are listed for that particular condition and body system. If you have other medical conditions as well, those will also be considered. Make sure you provide as much documentation and as many medical records as possible to prove your condition and its severity.
Qualifying for Disability with a Residual Functioning Capacity and a Medical-Vocational Allowance
If your condition does not meet the criteria set forth in the Blue Book, you may still qualify for benefits using a medical-vocational allowance and a residual functioning capacity (RFC). The RFC clearly specifies your limitations, such as how frequently you have to reposition or how you are unable to bend or lift because of pain.
Because the condition causes severe fatigue and blood clots, you cannot stay in one position long at all. That should be clearly indicated in your doctor’s notes. Your age, work experience, education level, and transferable skills are also considered. They will determine if you can do lighter duty, sedentary work that is much less demanding than your current kind of work.
The disability process is complex and can be lengthy. Your claim may be denied twice, but you can file appeals. The final step is a hearing before an administrative law judge who will rule on your case. Remember that about three-fourths of all disability claims are initially denied, so approval can take months.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Disability Case
Polycythemia vera involves extensive testing, and all of these test results should be included with your claim. You should include all your blood tests and lab results, diagnostic imaging of blood clots, and all of your physician notes that detail how your condition is limiting your ability to function. Having a serious chronic condition can also have an impact on your mental health, so any anxiety or depression should also be indicated and taken into consideration.
The SSA may order a medical evaluation or a mental evaluation at their expense. These are for informational purposes only and will help them in the decision making process. They will schedule the appointment with the doctor of their choice. It is important that you keep this appointment to show your seriousness about your claim.
Remember, including detailed documentation is imperative in proving your case and winning benefits. Talk with your physician about your condition and about applying for SSDI. He or she may have suggestions that will prove beneficial in your claim and may be able to provide additional notes and documentation that will help you prove your case.