What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which an affected individual’s red blood cells take on an abnormal shape resembling sickles or crescent moons. These abnormal cells interfere with the efficient transport of oxygen within the body because they are not as flexible as normal red blood cells, and can thus get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or prevent blood flow and oxygen from reaching certain areas of the body. There is no cure for most people with sickle cell anemia, but treatment can help relieve pain and prevent complications associated with the condition.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia include:

  • Fatigue (caused by anemia, i.e. lack of red blood cells)
  • Episodes of pain
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Delayed growth or puberty
  • Vision problems

The signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia usually appear around the age of five, but can vary from person to person, with some individuals not exhibiting signs of the disease until they are in their early twenties. For veterans with sickle cell anemia, despite this condition being a hereditary disease, it is still eligible for VA disability compensation if a veteran’s service made the condition worse or symptoms of the condition did not manifest until he or she was in the service. 

How The VA Rates Sickle Cell Anemia

Under 38 CFR § 4.117, the VA rates sickle cell anemia according to its severity.

Diagnostic Code 7714: Sickle cell anemia

  • 100 – With at least 4 or more painful episodes per 12-month period, occurring in skin, joints, bones, or any major organs, caused by hemolysis and sickling of red blood cells, with anemia, thrombosis, and infarction, with residual symptoms precluding even light manual labor
  • 60 – With 3 painful episodes per 12-month period or with symptoms precluding other than light manual labor
  • 30 – With 1 or 2 painful episodes per 12-month period
  • 10 – Asymptomatic, established case in remission, but with identifiable organ impairment

For VA disability rating purposes, sickle cell trait alone, without a history of directly attributable pathological findings, is not a ratable disability. 

Get Help With Your Sickle Cell Anemia VA Claim

If you or someone you know is a veteran with sickle cell anemia and is looking for help with his or her VA claim, please contact our office today.