Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that is diagnosed in approximately 200,000 Americans each year. While treatment can help to control the symptoms of sarcoidosis, it can also cause long-term complications, including organ damage and even death. If your sarcoidosis has progressed to the point that you are unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security (SSI) benefits for sarcoidosis, you will need to fill out an application and submit documentation of your diagnosis and symptoms and how they affect your ability to work. Proving that you meet the disability rating for sarcoidosis can be challenging. An experienced New Jersey disability attorney can guide you through the process and help increase the likelihood of getting your disability application approved.
At Bross & Frankel, we are dedicated to helping people with disabilities get the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. Our law firm has helped thousands of people get SSDI and SSI benefits. Reach out today to schedule a free claim review and learn more about how we can help you.
Can You Get Disability for Sarcoidosis?
To be approved for SSDI/SSI benefits for sarcoidosis, you must be able to demonstrate that you meet the SSA’s disability qualifications. Many people with sarcoidosis experience no symptoms or only mild symptoms. However, if your disease is at the point where you are no longer able to work – or to engage in what the SSA describes as substantial gainful activity (SGA) – you may qualify for benefits.
Sarcoidosis can affect various organs in the body, including the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, and heart. As it progresses, it might cause significant damage to these organs, causing symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Persistent dry cough
- Blurred vision
- Lesions on the skin
- Sensitivity to light
- Irregular heartbeats
- Rapid or fluttering heartbeat (palpitations)
Over time, this inflammatory disease can cause other issues, such as pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, retinal damage and blindness, kidney failure, cardiac problems, and even paralysis if the inflammation affects the central nervous system. At this point, treatments such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and physical therapy may no longer be sufficient to manage symptoms.
If your sarcoidosis has progressed to this stage, then you may no longer be able to work. You may then be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.
How to Get Disability for Sarcoidosis
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you will have to prove that you are disabled. Under SSA rules, this means proving that you have a medical or mental health condition whose symptoms are so severe that you cannot work. You must not be able to work for a period of 12 months or longer, or the condition must be expected to be terminal.
The SSA uses a 5 step sequential process to determine if a person is disabled:
- If you are working, then you cannot earn more than a certain amount, known as SGA. For 2022, SGA is $1,350 a month for people who are not blind and $2,260 for people who are blind.
- Your impairment or combination of impairments must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work and is either expected to last for a year or longer or to result in death.
- Your impairment must either meet or exceed all of the requirements on the SSA’s listing of impairments, or it must have other factors that equal a listed impairment.
- If your impairment does not meet or exceed these criteria, then it must prevent you from performing any of your past work.
- You must not be able to perform any other type of work, based on your condition, age, education, past work experience, and job skills.
The SSA’s listing of impairments – also known as the blue book – does not have a specific listing for sarcoidosis. Instead, to qualify for Social Security disability, you will need to show that you meet the criteria for another listing. For example, if you have suffered lung damage from your sarcoidosis, then you may be eligible under the listing for chronic respiratory disorders.
Under this blue book listing, you will have to show the following:
- A forced expiratory volume (FEV1) ratio that is less than or equal to the value in SSA tables for your age, gender, and height without shoes; OR
- A forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio that is less than or equal to the value in SSA tables for your age, gender, and height without shoes. OR
- Chronic impairment of gas exchange demonstrated by 1, 2, or 3:
- Average of two unadjusted, single-breath DLCO (diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide) measurements less than or equal to the value in an SSA table for your gender and height without shoes; or
- Arterial PaO2 (partial pressure oxygen) and PaCO2 (partial pressure carbon dioxide) are measured concurrently by an arterial blood gas (ABG) test, while at rest or during steady-state exercise, breathing room air, less than or equal to the applicable values in SSA tables; or
- SpO2 (oxygen saturation) is measured by pulse oximetry either at rest, during a six-minute walk test (6MWT), or after a 6MWT, less than or equal to the value set forth in an SSA table.
- Exacerbations or complications requiring three hospitalizations within a 12-month period and at least 30 days apart Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours, including hours in a hospital emergency department immediately before the hospitalization.
Alternatively, if you do not meet these criteria, then you may still be able to file a disability claim for another medical issue related to damage to another body organ. For example, if you have heart failure because of your sarcoidosis, then you may qualify under that listing. Similarly, if your sarcoidosis has affected your vision, then you may be eligible for SSDI/SSI benefits for vision loss.
An experienced disability lawyer can work with you to determine what disability rating you may qualify under for your sarcoidosis. If your condition has caused other health issues – such as blindness, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or chronic heart failure, then you may be approved for disability benefits for one or more of these conditions.
Applying for Disability with Sarcoidosis
If you cannot work because of your sarcoidosis, then you can file an application for Social Security disability benefits. The process involves filling out forms and providing documentation, such as proof of citizenship, evidence of your work history (SSDI) or financial status (SSI), and medical records to prove that you are disabled. You can file your application online, over the phone, or at a local Social Security field office.
Depending on your diagnosis, you will need to submit medical evidence that shows that you have a certain health condition. This documentation may include:
- Results of tests, such as FEV1 or FVC for pulmonary disorders
- Notes of diagnosis
- List of medications and how you responded to them
- Records of hospitalizations
- Documentation of surgeries and procedures
If you do not meet the disability rating for a specific condition, then you will need to provide evidence that shows that you are unable to perform your past work or any sedentary work. The SSA will perform a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment that evaluates your ability to perform work based on the limitations that you have from your sarcoidosis.
You are not required to have a disability attorney to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. However, it can be difficult to complete the paperwork correctly and gather the right medical evidence to meet the SSA’s definition of disability. Many initial applications for disability benefits are denied because an applicant did not fill out the forms correctly or did not submit enough proof of their diagnosis and limitations.
An experienced disability lawyer can help you through the process. They will evaluate your medical history and offer advice on applying for benefits. If you choose to hire an attorney, then they will work with you to put together the strongest possible application based on your specific disability.
If your disability claim has been denied, a lawyer can represent you in an appeal. Whether you are considering filing an application or have already been denied, a skilled disability benefits attorney can help you get the benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
Is Sarcoidosis Considered a Disability?
The SSA does not include sarcoidosis in its listing of impairments. However, if you have another medical condition that was caused by sarcoidoses – such as COPD or heart failure – then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The key to getting benefits is proving that you have a diagnosis, that your symptoms meet or exceed a Blue Book listing, and/or that you cannot work because of your disability.
If you have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, then you may be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits. Contact Bross & Frankel today to schedule a free claim review.
Can I Afford to Hire a Disability Attorney?
Yes. Social Security disability attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not have to pay anything out of pocket to hire a lawyer. Instead, you’ll pay a percentage of your back pay award if your claim is successful. The SSA caps these fees at 25% or $6,000, whichever is less.
For this reason, you can afford to hire a lawyer for your Social Security disability application even if you don’t have a lot of extra cash. If you are considering filing for disability, give our law office a call to schedule a free claim review with an NJ disability attorney.
My SSDI Application for Sarcoidosis Was Denied. What Can I Do?
The SSA has four levels of appeal: a request for reconsideration, a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), a Social Security Appeals Council Review, and a federal court lawsuit. If your disability application was denied, you can file an appeal with the help of a disability benefits attorney, even if you did not hire a lawyer for the initial application.
The appeals process can be challenging, particularly if your application has already been denied. A skilled disability lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact Bross & Frankel today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
Many people with sarcoidosis live full lives, with few limitations. Yet for some people, progressive organ damage may lead to disability. If you are no longer able to hold down a job because of your sarcoidosis, then you may be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.
Based in Cherry Hill, NJ, Bross & Frankel represents clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey as they apply for disability benefits. We offer free claim reviews to all prospective clients so that you can better understand your rights and options for filing a claim. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, give our legal team a call at 856-795-8880 or fill out our online contact form.