Can Polycythemia Vera qualify for Social Security Disability?
Ask the Advocate
March 13, 2021
Question: I am a 60-year-old man just diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera. I am now unable to work due to some of the symptoms. I have painful swelling in the big toe of my right foot making it hard to stand and walk. I have numbness, tingling, burning and weakness in both my hands so bad that I can't even hold a coffee cup. I get shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness if I even try to mow the lawn. All of that and almost daily weakness and fatigue. I am on State Disability right now, but it will run out in April. Could I qualify for Social Security Disability?
Answer: Polycythemia Vera (PV) is a type of blood disorder which causes the bone marrow to overproduce red blood cells. The condition sometimes also causes the body to produce too many platelets and white blood cells. These disorders cause the blood to thicken, which leads to a number of adverse conditions.
Because PV causes the blood to thicken, it can cause blood clots. The blood thickening caused by PV causes the blood flow to slow down. In some cases, the blood takes twice as long to circulate through the body than it would in a healthy body.
There is no cure known for PV and it is a chronic (long term, continual) condition by definition. To date, all treatments for the condition are focused on treating the symptoms and lessening the complications caused by the thickening of the blood. I am assuming you have discussed these treatment options with your doctor. Be sure that your doctor verifies all of the symptoms you have mentioned.
When applying for Social Security disability benefits, you will want to have as much medical documentation as possible. You will need the results of all lab tests which were used to confirm that you have PV. You will also want to make sure that all blood transfusions are thoroughly documented and that you keep track of how many blood transfusions you have had. Any medical tests or documentation regarding the various organs which are affected by your disabling condition should also be included in your claim.
Claiming Social Security disability benefits can be a confusing process. The SSA holds a very narrow definition of what counts as disability. In order to qualify for benefits, you need to show that the sum of your conditions is serious enough that you can't perform any kind of meaningful work.
One thing many PV claimants have going for them is their age. The older you are, the less the SSA expects you to be able to adjust to new and different types of employment opportunities. Older claimants still have to prove that they are incapable of performing work for which they could reasonably be trained, of course, but the SSA sets the bar lower in terms of how much re-training they expect claimants to be able to go through.
An Accredited Disability Representative with more than 20 years experience, Diana Wade believes her clientele can be comfortable knowing that she is recognized by SSA and is a charter member of NADR. To contact Ms. Wade call (661) 821-0494, email [email protected] or visit http://www.CaliforniaDisability.net.