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Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is a blood disorder that can result in symptoms that prevent you from working. For example, symptoms such as fatigue and pain can keep you from working a 40 hour work week. Our law firm can help you win SSD benefits if you have sickle cell disorder. Contact us today for a free review of your SSD benefits.

If you have sickle cell anemia, then your body creates red blood cells that are “sickled” in appearance. This means that your blood cells, instead of being round, are curved. Your cells look like a half moon.

Because the cells are not round, they block blood flow and create pain. Also, sickle cells can cause a number of conditions. One condition they can cause, for example, is hemolytic anemia.

Hemolytic anemia occurs when there is a decrease in red blood cells. In short, your red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can produce new red blood cells. With all types of anemia, including sickle cell disease, common symptoms include infections, pain, and fatigue.

sickle cell anemia


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited group of disorders. Under the heading of sickle cell disease there are a number of conditions that qualify as sickle cell anemia.  These include, for example, HbSS, sickle beta zero thalassemia, HbSD, HbSE, and HbSO. Other forms of sickle cell disease, such as sickle beta plus thalassemia and HbSC, cause milder symptoms.

You may have heard the term “sickle cell trait.” Sickle cell trait is not a form of sickle cell anemia. Instead, sickle cell trait occurs when you inherit a sickle cell gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent. Normally, having sickle cell trait does not cause any symptoms, like those with sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell anemia is one of the most common inherited blood anemias. The disease usually affects Africans and African-Americans. In the United States, there are between 90,000 to 100,000 Americans who have sickle cell anemia. Because the disease is genetic, estimates are that one in 500 U.S. African-American children have sickle cell anemia at birth. Currently, there is a possible genetic cure for sickle cell disorder. We discuss it later in this article.


Sickle cell anemia can prevent you from working due to its severe symptoms. For example, if you have sickle cell anemia, then you may suffer severe symptoms. Your symptoms may include abdominal pain, chest pain, and bone pain. Likewise, you may find it difficult to catch your breath. You will experience fatigue, along with pain. Additionally, you may have fever, excessive thirst, and frequent urination.

Some of these symptoms appear in other physical conditions, like Diabetes Mellitus. Nevertheless, once you experience this group of symptoms, you need to visit a doctor to determine if you have sickle cell anemia.


In addition to the symptoms of sickle cell anemia, you may also experience more severe illness. These are called crises. There are four different types of sickle cell crises:

  • Vaso-occlusive (thrombotic) crisis – This type of crisis occurs when blood flow is blocked to your organs. This can happen because of blockages in the blood vessels that deliver blood to your organs. If blood flow stops to your organs, it can cause organ damage. You will know this crisis is happening because it is very painful.
  • Splenic sequestration crisis – Splenic sequestration crisis occurs due to enlargement of the spleen. You will know this is happening because your abdomen becomes hard and you will be in pain. Therefore, you must seek immediate medical attention.
  • Aplastic crisis – You are already aware that sickle cell anemia causes a decrease in red blood cells and this makes it so they cannot carry out their function in the body. An aplastic crisis occurs when, due to the lack of red blood cells, you experience fatigue and rapid heart beat.
  • Hemolytic crisis – You experience a hemolytic crisis when the decrease in red blood cells starts to cause kidney damage.

Other problems that occur with sickle cell anemia include gallstones, bone infections, skin ulcers, kidney and spleen damage (as above), and possible stroke. Find out more about stroke and disability benefits here. As you can see, sickle cell anemia creates severe physical symptoms.


In 2017, the SSA issued Social Security Ruling 17-3p.  This SSA Ruling talks about the complications of sickle cell disease. It also explains how the SSA will examine the sickle cell anemia’s various conditions.

SSR 17-3p includes a long list of complications from sickle cell disease. For example, they include “pain, crises, anemia, osteomyelitis, leg ulcers, pulmonary infections or infarctions, acute chest syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, chronic heart failure, gallbladder disease, liver failure, kidney failure, nephritic syndrome, aplastic crisis, stroke, and mental impairments such as depression.” That is a long list. You may not have every symptom on the list, but you can still have severe complications from sickle cell disease.


The SSA goes on to explain the specific conditions that they consider when looking to pay benefits for sickle cell disease. These include:


Pain (vaso-occlusive) crisis is a common complication of SCD. Acute pain crises occur suddenly when sickled red blood cells stop blood flow and reduce oxygen delivery to your cells. The pain from this can be intense, stabbing, or throbbing. Additionally, pain can strike almost anywhere in the body and in more than one spot at a time. However, the pain often occurs in the lower back, legs, arms, abdomen, and chest.

Chronic pain in SCD is more than an acute pain crisis. It usually occurs when lack of oxygen to the bone due results in the death of bone tissue. This is called avascular necrosis. Death of the bone tissue usually occurs in the joints, such as the hips, shoulders and ankles.


Anemia is another obvious complication of SCD. Again, anemia occurs when the deformed red blood cells die prematurely. This reduces the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood. Symptoms from anemia include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Chronic deprivation of oxygen-rich blood can damage nerves and organs in the body. Damage can occur to the spleen, brain, eyes, joints, bones, lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, and other organs.


Pulmonary complications such as acute chest syndrome (ACS) and pulmonary hypertension are the leading cause of death for those with sickle cell disease. Acute chest syndrome is a vaso-occlusion of the pulmonary vessels. Symptoms of ACS include chest pain, fever, abnormally rapid breathing, wheezing, or coughing. Pulmonary hypertension occurs when sickled red blood cells cause the pulmonary arteries to become narrow and blocked. The result of this damage to the pulmonary arteries is high blood pressure in the lungs. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain.


Strokes and silent strokes affect people with SCD at a higher rate, because sickled red blood cells clump along the walls of larger arteries going to the brain. Unfortunately, strokes can result in full or partial paralysis on one side of the body. They can also result in problems with balance, speaking, and understanding. Silent strokes can also occur. A silent stroke means that there are no outward symptoms. You only know if you have had a silent stroke by brain imaging. However, silent strokes can impair intellectual ability, attention, visual skills, language, and long-term memory.


Bacterial infections are also one of the severe problems for people with SCD. Anemia from SCD can damage the spleen. This increases the risk of infection and damages other organs. Infection can lead to a hospital stay. Sadly, infection is the primary cause of death in young children with sickle cell disorder.

Closeup of pencil eraser and black sickle cell anemia text. Sickle cell anemia. Pencil with eraser.


The SSA has a listing of conditions that “meet” the listing. For sickle cell anemia and other hemolytic anemias, the listing is 7.05. If you have all of the elements under the listing, then you “meet” the listing. Therefore, the SSA should pay you benefits.


7.05 Hemolytic anemias, including sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and their variants, with:

    1. Documented painful (vaso-occlusive) crises requiring parenteral (intravenous or intramuscular) narcotic medication, occurring at least six times within a 12-month period with at least 30 days between crises.    OR
    2.  Complications of hemolytic anemia that requires at least three hospitalizations within a 12 month period and occur at least 30 days apart. Each stay in the hospital must last at least 48 hours, which can include hours in a hospital emergency department or comprehensive sickle cell disease center immediately before the hospitalization   OR
    3. Hemoglobin measurements of 7.0 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or less, that occurs at least three times within a 12 month period with at least 30 days between measurements.  OR
    4. Beta thalassemia major requiring life-long RBC transfusions at least once every 6 weeks to maintain life.

Please note, for example, that listing 7.05 requires “crises” and “hospital stays.” This means, in order to document, your sickle cell disease, you must have medical records. You cannot, for example, suffer significant pain and then testify about it. The SSA will not accept that you meet the listing without medical evidence. Therefore, go to the doctor. Document your sickle cell disease. Find out more about the importance of medical records in your Social Security case.


Children with sickle cell disorder have their own SSA listing. That listing is 107.05. The childhood listing is the same as the adult listing. In order for a child to meet listing 107.05, they must have all of the elements under the listing. If the child meets the listing, then they can get SSI benefits. However, SSI benefits also have financial and asset rules. Learn more information about SSI benefits.

If a child does not “meet” a listing, then they can still win SSI benefits, if the SSA finds “functionally equal” the listing. Social Security’s Ruling 17-3p, explains how the SSA looks at sickle cell disease and its limitations on a childhood functioning.


Children with SCD that does not meet or equal a listing may still have symptoms that functionally equal the listings under the rules for evaluating disability in children. When the SSA determines whether a child’s impairments functionally equal the listings, they use the six domains of functioning.

The SSA considers how the child functional abilities compare to children in the same age group who do not have a medical condition. SSA recognizes that each child is different. They also know that the symptoms of sickle cell disease vary in each child. That is why they look at six different domains and compare the sick child to other children in their age group.


When the SSA looks at whether a child has a condition that equals a listing, they look to six domains of functioning. The six domains of function are:


Some children with sickle cell disease may have limits in acquiring and using information. For example, they may experience a stroke or a silent stroke. Strokes can cause brain injury. Therefore, if a child has a stroke due to SCD, that will effect the child’s ability to learn, concentrate, speak, and remember.


Frequent pain crises from sickle cell disorder can limit a child’s ability to attend and complete tasks at school and at home.  If a child experiences pain, it may be difficult  to stay focused on activities long enough to complete them. A child who has pain from sickle cell disease may also have problems paying attention to details. Therefore, they might make mistakes on school work.


Sickle cell disease can also cause problems dealing with other people. The unpredictable nature of pain in SCD may cause anxiety and difficulty with relationships. Children suffering from complications of SCD may avoid other people. They might also be uncooperative or unresponsive.


Sickle cell disease limits a child’s ability to move and manipulate objects. The SSA evaluates those effects in the domain of “moving about and manipulating objects.” For example, pain and bone degeneration in the hip bones, knees, and ankles, may cause problems. For example, the child could have problems with walking, running, and climbing up and down stairs.


Caring for yourself involves a child’s basic understanding of her body. This includes emotional health for carrying out self care tasks. A child with sickle cell disease may avoid taking medication. Likewise, they may ignore the symptoms of the disease out of frustration.


Sickle cell disease and its treatment may affect a child’s health and happiness. In this domain, the SSA evaluates the number of pain crises due to sickle cell anemia. They consider how often and long your pain lasts. Also, they examine to what extent the pain affects the child’s ability to function physically.


If you don’t meet the sickle cell anemia listing 7.05, then you can still be paid benefits. Especially, if you can’t work due to your severe symptoms. The SSA looks to your severe symptoms and determines your residual functional capacity (RFC). If you RFC is limited, then your RFC can prevent you from working.

The SSA determines your RFC by reading your medical records and asking you questions. For example, the SSA will look at how your symptoms impact your ability to do everyday tasks. They will also look at your fatigue and determine if you need to lay down during the workday.

Additionally, the SSA will decide whether or not your sickle cell disorder is causing mental health issues. For example, does your pain impair your ability to concentrate. Or, if you have had a stroke, are you struggling to communicate? The SSA develops a RFC assessment to determine if you can work. Find out more about the RFC assessment.


There are new treatments for sickle cell disease. For example, on May 6, 2024, the New York Times reported that a 12 year old boy became the first person in the world to try gene therapy. The gene therapy might cure the disease. The boy’s name is Kendrick Cromer.

Doctors removed his bone marrow stem cells in order to modify the genes. In order to obtain the stem cells they need, Kendric will undergo stem cell extraction. Doctors need hundreds of millions of stem cells. It takes from six to eight hours to extract the cells. If they cannot get enough stem cells, then he will have to undergo the procedure again. Therefore, this process could take months.

Because it takes so long to extract stem cells, Bluebird (the company that is doing the clinical trials) can only treat 85 to 105 patients each year. Children’s National, where Kendrick is getting treatment, can only accept 10 gene therapy patients a year.

The main reason they can’t handle more patients is they have to stay in the hospital for a month. Additionally, the patient is very ill from the chemotherapy. Kendric’s health insurance is paying for the procedure.

There are over 100,000 people in the US who have sickle cell disease. About 20,000 people with the disease qualify for treatment. Unfortunately, the people who have this disease face many obstacles. Over time, the hope is that more people can undergo treatment and be cured.


You do not have to obtain SSD benefits for sickle cell disorders on your own. Our law firm can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you through the stages of appeal during the appeal process. That way, you can focus on your health and the changes in your life. Our attorneys and staff can:

  • Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
  • Request an appeal if you receive an initial denial from DDS
  • Help you confirm your attendance at an SSA doctor exam
  • Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
  • Prepare you to be a good witness at your hearing
  • Represent you at your hearing and question the expert witnesses
  • Read more about job experts
  • Learn more about medical expert testimony 
  • Request review of an ALJ decision with the Appeals Council
  • Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court

If you file your application for benefits on Social Security’s website, then you only have 6 months to complete it. Additionally, once you receive a denial from the SSA, you only have 60 days to appeal the decision. You must not fail to meet the time limits set by the SSA.


To receive benefits, a person must meet SSA’s listing. You will only win benefits, if your sickle cell symptoms will last one year or more. Likewise, will also be paid benefits if your condition will result in death. Additionally, after you apply for benefits you may also qualify for past due SSDI benefits.

Because the SSA’s rules are so strict, those who receive benefits have the most severe medical issues in our country. In fact, those who get SSD benefits are more than three times as likely to die in a given year as other people the same age.

At 55, if you are paid SSD benefits, then your chances of dying within five years from the onset of your disability is high. Depending on your gender, 1 in 6 men die after getting benefits. Similarly, 1-in-8 women die within five years of the onset of their benefits.

The truth is that 1-in-4 people in the United States become disabled before retirement age. If this happens, then you can get Social Security Disability benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

In 2022, the average Social Security Disability monthly is $1,358. However, most people receive less money than that per month. Many law firms claim that you can win more than $3000 a month in benefits. This is not correct.

Only 10% of people who get SSDI benefits receive more than $2,000 per month in benefits. If you have a family, you receive extra SSD benefits. For example, in 2022 the average monthly benefit for an SSD benefit client who has a spouse and children is $2,383 per month.


If you need Social Security benefits for sickle cell disease, then you should hire an attorney. An attorney can help you file an application for SSDI and SSI benefits.

Studies show that you are three times more likely to win benefits if you hire an attorney. Additionally, an attorney will know the medical symptoms to prove you deserve benefits for sickle cell disease.

In order to hire our law firm, all you need to do is call us or contact us. We offer a free review of your case over the phone. And, it doesn’t cost anything to call us.

Better yet, it also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This means if we win your SSD case, then you pay the attorney fee out of your back benefits. If you do not win, then there is no attorney fee to pay.

The attorney fee has a cap or a limit. The SSA sets the limit of the attorney fee at 25% of the back benefit or the attorney fee cap. You pay whatever amount is less.


The costs of a claim for sickle cell disease is the same for any other medical condition. If there are costs in your case, then you pay those. But usually those costs are less than $100. Costs in your case are paying for your medical records. We try to keep your costs to a minimum.

Once we win your case, the payment of your attorney fee comes from your back benefit. This is unusual, because to hire most lawyers, you have to pay the attorney fee upfront. We don’t work like that.

You don’t have a job. So, the only way to pay us, is for us to win your case. That is our goal. We will also try to win your past due SSD benefits. Likewise, if you have a prior application to reopen, we will do that too. Call today. See what we can do for you.

Additionally, we represent clients in many states. For example, we have clients in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. Learn about Idaho SSD benefits. We also represent clients in Colorado and California. Find out more about Nevada SSD benefits.

Learn more about Utah SSD benefits. Additionally, we have information about California SSD benefits.

No matter where you live, we will answer your questions about sickle cell disease and your benefit case. We want to be your legal team. If you have questions about benefits, give us a call today.


If you want to learn more about the lawyers at our law firm, then read our About Us page. There you will find more information about our attorneys and staff. For example, Andria Summers can help you with your Medicare benefits. Likewise, she has also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.

Dianna Cannon has many years of experience helping her clients win SSDI and SSI benefits. She has been an attorney for thirty years. Ms. Cannon also has licenses in a number of states. For example, she has a law license in California, Utah, Nevada, and Washington State.

Additionally, Brett Bunkall also has legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. Mr. Bunkall has won thousands of Social Security hearings. He is an expert. Similarly, all of our lawyers are experts. You can trust us to help you receive benefits for sickle cell anemia or sickle cell disease.


There are many important issues that play a role in whether you receive benefits for sickle cell disease. You need a lawyer who understands those issues. Also, you need an SSI lawyer who knows the law.

Cannon Disability wants to be your legal team. Hire us for our experience. Over the last 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI claims. It isn’t an easy task to win. But, we have the experience to win your sickle cell anemia case. Learn more information about another blood disease, like hemophilia.

Another important factor to consider when hiring an attorney is what it costs. We are affordable. Because you do not pay an attorney fee until we win your case. The attorney fee comes out of your SSD back benefit. If we do not win your case, then there is no attorney fee for you to pay.

Contact us today. Take advantage of our free review of your case. If you call, then we can answer your questions. Remember, we are experts in SSI and SSDI benefits. We will do our best to win your benefits. Call today.

When you call, be able to tell us what sickle cell disease symptoms you or your child experiences. Also, be ready to tell us about your doctors. We also want to know if you are getting treatment for mental conditions. Find out if we can help you obtain SSD benefits for your sickle cell disorder.

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