Can You Get Social Security Disability for Breast Cancer?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you have breast cancer, it’s important to know what resources are available to you — including whether you qualify for Social Security disability. Why? Because breast cancer comes with some huge costs.
The Extensive Costs of Breast CancerBreast cancer can be diagnosed in both women and men, and it affects the cells in breast tissue. Diagnosis can be done in a handful of ways, and the level of severity ranges from Stage 0 to Stage 4.
Even with insurance, most breast cancers require costly treatments that may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery. On top of the fiscal costs, the cancer can affect a patient’s quality of life and require them to take a significant amount of time away from work.
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can offer support to some people diagnosed with breast cancer and help offset costs. The SSA’s Blue Book, which references SSA’s listed impairments, includes Listing 13.10 for breast cancer. But not everyone suffering from breast cancer qualifies under this Listing.
So, how do you know if your type of breast cancer is eligible for Social Security disability?
Qualifying for SSD Benefits for Breast CancerIf you are unsure if you are able to receive Social Security disability for your breast cancer, you should speak to your doctor. Understanding your stage and the severity of your cancer is the first step. Breast cancer usually must be quite severe to merit disability benefits.
As mentioned above, the Blue Book’s listing 13.10 lays out the requirements for breast cancer to be deemed a qualifying disability. Some of the qualifications include:
- Breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other areas, including skin, chest, organs or nodes; or
- Carcinoma that has spread above or below the collarbone and into 10 or more axillary nodes; or
- Small cell carcinoma; or
- Aggressive cancer that has returned after cancer treatment
Compassionate AllowancesHopefully, breast cancer diagnoses are made early on before the cancer is severe. However, in some cases, a patient will be diagnosed with very severe Stage 3 or Stage 4 breast cancer. In these cases, patients are able to receive Social Security disability benefits quickly though an SSA program called Compassionate Allowances.
If a patient can prove that their cancer is inoperable, has spread to other parts of the body, or has returned aggressively despite treatment, they can be approved quickly as a Compassionate Allowance. Information from your doctor, which may include a pathology report or biopsy, will help patients receive the Social Security benefits they need through the program.
What If You Don’t Qualify Through one of the Blue Book’s Listings?Although the requirements listed above are more likely to get your Social Security disability claim approved, it is possible to receive benefits even if you don’t qualify through the SSA Blue Book’s listing of impairments. If your residual functioning capacity (RFC) is hindered by your cancer to the extent that you are unable to work for a year or more, you may be deemed disabled.
It is up to the SSA to determine your RFC, then consider your RFC in light of your age, education, and past work experience to determine if you are disabled under the law. SSA will consider not only your statements, but also the medical evidence. In addition to your physical capabilities, your mental functioning may be impacted by your illnesses, and also is a factor in determining whether you are able disabled under the law.
Applying for Social Security Disability for Breast CancerHaving reviewed the above qualifications, do you believe that you, a friend, or a loved one’s breast cancer meets the requirements for Social Security disability benefits? If so, you should begin the process of filing a SSD claim.
Having a seasoned attorney on your side who specializes in disability can make the experience smoother and less stressful, while strengthening your claim and helping you fight for the benefits you deserve. They can guide you through this process and apply the law to the facts of your case with the ultimate goal of establishing disability so that you can go on with your life.
You’ve got enough to handle; let a professional help you through this difficult time.