If you have seen a doctor for blood clots, the doctor probably explained how dangerous they can be. You may have been diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) if a blood clot has formed in one of the deep veins in the body (usually the legs). The major DVT risk is that the blood clot will break off, travel to the lungs, and block blood flow. This is potentially deadly and known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). If your doctors have found a DVT that creates a risk for a PE, you may have experienced a stressful hospitalization. You were probably discharged with a prescription for a blood thinning medication. Doctors may have implanted a medical device known as an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter to trap blood clots before they get to the lungs.
Document Your Disability to Increase Your Odds of Approval
Someone who has undergone a hospitalization like this should expect to follow up with a specialist who can check on their progress and monitor any ongoing risks. With respect to a disability case, the record of this treatment (which occurs “after the dust has settled”) is generally going to be even more important than the record of the initial hospitalization for blood clots. That’s because this record constitutes evidence related to the ongoing work-related limitations someone would be expected to have due to blood clots. A person who is considering disability should have a conversation about these limitations with their doctor. Important questions would include:
- What kind of precautions should I take now that I’m on a blood thinning medication? (These include Coumadin/Warfarin, Heparin, Eliquis, and Xarelto.) Do I need to avoid regularly using knives, razors, or other sharp objects to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding?
- Are there dangers associated with prolonged standing? What if I am asked to do a job that involves standing throughout the day?
- What about sitting for an extended period of time? Do I need to get up and move around at regular intervals? Do I need to elevate my legs? How does this affect my ability to travel by car or plane?
- Does my IVC filter limit me with lifting or otherwise engaging in strenuous activity?
Older Individuals May Have an Easier Time Getting Disability Benefits
The answers to these questions are important. For an individual in their 50s, often the most important question in their disability case is whether their impairments make them unable to perform the work they did in the past. If you are in this age category and have developed blood clots, there are numerous reasons why you may be unable to perform your past work. If you worked with dangerous machinery, moving mechanical parts, or sharp objects, the use of blood thinners (which involve excessive bleeding as a potential side effect) may mean that it is no longer safe for you to continue. I have had clients tell me they are no longer capable of strenuous activity after placement of an IVC filter. Most jobs involve extended periods of standing or sitting, and doctors would likely encourage someone with a history of blood clots to avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods.
After you have discussed your limitations with your doctor, you can check with your employer to see if they are able to accommodate these limitations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides that employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” to their employees, but if your impairment simply leaves you unable to do what your employer needs, there is certainly no requirement that your employer continue to pay you.
If you are unable to continue working for your employer, you could look into a vocational rehabilitation program which can attempt to match you with work that will accommodate your limitations. However, it’s possible that there may not be a suitable match. For someone in their 50s, Social Security recognizes that older individuals face adversity in finding and adapting to new work. Employers are less likely to invest in training these individuals because they can expect greater returns from training a younger employee with more years left to work. This is Social Security’s rationale for the “grid rules” which create a system that is more conducive to an older individual being found disabled. While this is often frustrating to younger individuals with disabilities, the policy is based on a logical rationale.
Your Blood Clots Must Prevent You from Working to Qualify for Social Security
Nonetheless, recurrent blood clotting problems would seem to leave even a younger individual unable to work on a full-time basis. To get disability, the younger individual has to show that they can’t do any job which exists in significant numbers in the national economy. It doesn’t take a vocational expert to know that most jobs involve extended standing or sitting, so you would think that a judge would understand why someone with a chronic blood clotting disorder would be unable to work a regular basis. After all, the risks associated with blood clots and extended standing are recognized.
Also, it is well-established that prolonged sitting is dangerous if someone has a blood clotting problem.
While the risks blood clot sufferers incur with prolonged standing and sitting seem clear, a skilled disability attorney will make sure this is well-documented with the kinds of evidence judges need to approve a case – medical records and physician opinions. This is one more reason it is important to have a representative that you trust on your side.
Let Our Social Security Attorneys Handle Your Disability Claim
At Keller & Keller, our Social Security attorneys are well-versed in the written and unwritten rules which have long applied to disability cases. We also stay on the cutting edge of important trends. Right now, doctors are recognizing a link between COVID-19 and blood clots. Data indicates that blood clots are seen in a high percentage of people who have been infected with COVID.
If you are struggling with something new and “novel” like COVID-related blood clots (or any other long COVID symptoms), you want an attorney who is up to date on the latest science and legal developments. You can contact Keller & Keller for a free consultation.