Feeling tired and weak can make it difficult to go to work, and many people with anemia experience these symptoms and several others. Anemia can be something that lasts a short time, or it can be a condition that lasts for quite a while. Additionally, it can be mild or severe. Anyone who has been diagnosed with anemia and is having difficulties doing everyday activities and going to work should be aware of what kinds of financial disability benefits they might be able to receive through the Social Security Administration’s disability benefits program.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is when a person doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells that can transport the oxygen into the tissues in the body. Anyone who is not getting adequate oxygen to all parts of the body is likely to experience several symptoms, including fatigue.
There are several reasons why someone might have anemia. For instance, if the body doesn’t make an adequate amount of red blood cells, a person would have anemia. Additionally, some people’s bodies hat actually destroy red blood cells. Finally, if someone loses a lot of blood and doesn’t have them medically replaced, the person might be anemic until the body has the time to replace them.
One of the most well-known types of anemia is iron deficiency anemia, which is when a person doesn’t have enough iron in their body, which is necessary for bone marrow to make hemoglobin. The hemoglobin in a person’s blood is what is actually able to transport oxygen. Additionally, this type of anemia is most common in women who are pregnant, women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, people with ulcers or cancer, and people who used too many over-the-counter pain relievers, which can cause inflammation of the stomach that results in blood loss.
Vitamin deficiency anemia is when a person doesn’t have enough folate or B12 to produce the healthy blood cells that are necessary to carry the oxygen. People can also get anemia because of inflammation, which is caused by diseases like cancer or HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, kidney disease, and other inflammatory diseases. Additionally, some people might have aplastic anemia or anemias that are associated with a bone marrow disease.
Finally, there are other potential risk factors, such as intestinal disorders, family history of anemia, and autoimmune disorders.
Symptoms of Anemia
One of the most common symptoms of anemia is fatigue, which happens because the tissues don’t receive enough red blood cells. Additionally, some people might have pale or even yellowish skin because the skin isn’t getting enough oxygen. While it’s not known for sure why, some people with anemia will also crave ice.
Some people think that it might be the mental stimulation that crunching on ice provides, which can offset the feelings of fatigue that are common for people with anemia. Cold hands and feet, chest pain and heart palpitations, headaches, and irregular heartbeats are also common. Also, some people experience ringing and other strange sounds in the ears because the heart is working harder to push oxygenated blood to the body. As the blood passes the ears quickly, this can make sounds, including ringing in the ears. Some people might also experience shortness of breath and dizziness.
Additionally, there are potential complications for anyone who has anemia, including severe fatigue that makes a person so tired that they’re unable to complete ordinary tasks. Pregnant women can have complications, too. For instance, women who have anemia because of a deficiency in folate might give birth to their baby prematurely. Some people will also have heart problems, such as an enlarged heart or even heart failure, which happens because the heart is pumping harder to try to get more oxygen to the other parts of the body. Finally, it’s also possible for people who die from some types of inherited anemias, such as sickle cell anemia.
Treatment for Anemia
The type of treatment given will depend on the type of anemia that the patient has. For instance, someone who has an iron deficiency anemia will need to take iron supplements or change their diet so that they can get more iron. They might also need to stop bleeding if for some reason they have been losing blood because of an injury.
People who have anemia because of a vitamin deficiency need to get treatment by taking more folic acid or vitamin C, which could involve dietary supplements or just eating foods that have more of those vitamins and minerals. Some people also have difficulties absorbing B12, so they have to get a shot several times a week, which can taper down to once a month.
People who have anemia because of some kind of chronic disease need to be treated for the disease that’s causing the anemia. If the underlying disease cannot be addressed quickly enough, some people will need a blood transfusion or an injection of hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells.
Some people have anemia because of certain medications, and this type of anemia is called hemolytic anemia. This type of anemia happens when a person takes drugs that suppress the immune system, which results in the body attacking the red blood cells. Additionally, some people with hemolytic anemia will be referred to a heart specialist.
People with sickle cell anemia have blood cells that are shriveled, so they can’t carry the oxygen properly. To treat this type of anemia, the person must receive oxygen, pain relievers, and fluids to prevent complications and reduce pain. Some people might also need to receive blood transfusions, antibiotics, and folic acid supplements.
Disability Benefits for Anemia
While most forms of anemia are mild enough that a person can continue to work and treatable enough that people who do have it can get better quickly, there is a certain percentage of people who get very sick because of a particular type of anemia that is not easy to cure.
While there used to be a specific listing for chronic anemia, this specific listing has been pulled out of the Blue Book, which is the manual that’s used to determine who is eligible for disability benefits. Instead, in 2015, the Social Security Administration introduced the listing that can apply to any blood disorder for an adult. Severe and chronic anemia falls under this listing, but there needs to be a few things documented. For instance, something like shortness of breath, fatigue, and pain should be documented. Additionally, the doctor should document whether or not the symptoms cause severe limitations in at least one of the following activities: social functioning, activities involving daily activities, or the ability to complete tasks within a given timeframe.
Additionally, there should be documentation of low hemoglobin or hematocrit to show that there are physiological reasons why someone is experiencing the symptoms that they have.
Another route to gaining disability benefits is to meet the listing for the impairment that’s causing the anemia. For instance, some cardiovascular and respiratory listings can cause anemia, so some people might fit under that category.
Finally, if someone with anemia doesn’t fit under one of the other categories, they can also apply using the residual-functional capacity test. This test looks at the limitations of the person and compares them to the work that they’ve done in the past to determine whether or not there’s work that they can do. If all of their limitations interfere with anything that they are trained to do, then it’s more likely that they will no longer have to work.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Anemia, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.