Winning Disability Benefits with Breast Cancer

by Editorial Board on March 14, 2011 · 0 comments

in Malignant Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and affects one in eight women. Breast cancer was often undiagnosed or untreated in the past, but with better diagnostic methods, the incidence of breast cancer is on the rise. However, if detected in very early stages, it can be successfully treated with surgery or radiation therapy.

Breast cancer is listed in the list of impairments (“the listings”) provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Disability, as defined by the SSA, means an inability to engage in work by reason of a medical condition which has lasted (or can be expected to last) 12 continuous months or more, or which can be expected to result in death.

As stated above, the disabling impairment must last for at least 12 months, or be a terminal condition, to be considered part of your disability. There are a wide variety of cancer treatment therapies which provide varied levels of recovery.  In some patients cancer may be surgically removed or treated and the patient may get back to work in less than 12 months. In such cases, that condition wouldn’t contribute to the problems and limitations that prevent one from working, so the person would probably not win disability benefits.

While evaluating the application of cancer patients, the SSA considers the origin of the cancer; extent of involvement; duration, frequency, and response to therapy and side effects of any therapy or treatment.

If you meet one of SSA’s listings you win benefits provided you are not working at substantial gainful activity levels (SGA), which in 2011 is $1,000 a month.  The SSA’s listing on breast cancer requires the patient to have one of following:

1.    Inoperable carcinoma

2.    Inflammatory carcinoma

3.    Recurring carcinoma

4.    Metastases (spread of cancer cells to distant parts of body)

A person with breast cancer may or may not get their Social Security Disability benefits (either Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI or DIB), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both.)   Such a person wins benefits when they either meet the listing or can prove that they are disabled under other rules within the SSA’s five step sequential disability evaluation process.  For example, disability benefits can also be won if the judge believes you cannot sustain full time competitive work.

Disability decisions in Social Security cases are usually based on level of severity of the impairments and not necessarily always on a diagnosis. Even if you have cancer, the SSA will look at what level of work activities you could do despite your impairment to decide if you are disabled or not.

Your medical evidence helps describe the extent of your problems to Social Security, and opinion statements from your doctors on your ability to do work like activities could help you win your benefits. Your healthcare provider’s letter and comments about your condition are extremely important to provide the judge an opinion from a treating source on your ability to work or not. Your doctor knows your problems well and is in a great position to explain your limitations to the SSA.

See if you qualify for Social Security Disability
Click here for a free consultation with a disability lawyer.

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