Written by attorney Kenneth Lewis LaVan

Eligibility for Social Security Disability after Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

Cervical cancer is one of many types of cancer that may cause severely disabling symptoms or require treatment that leads to disabling conditions. Women who suffer from cervical cancer may be entitled to Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits if their symptoms and condition result in an inability to perform substantial gainful activity.

Cancer is a unique type of disabling condition found on the Social Security Administration's listing of impairments, in that it is not always the disease itself that causes the disabling conditions, but rather the treatment.

Cervical Cancer as a Qualifying Condition for SSDI

According to the adult listing of impairments, cancers of the uterine cervix diagnosed as carcinoma or sarcoma must meet the following conditions:

  • The cancer must extend to the pelvic wall, lower portion of the vagina or the adjacent or distant organs; or
  • The cancer must be persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy.

The SSA defines antineoplastic therapy as surgery, irradiation, chemotherapy, hormones, immunotherapy, or bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.

The disability determination will rely on the origin of the cancer; the extent to which it has impaired the patient; the duration, frequency and response to treatment; and the effects of that treatment.

The evidence for qualifying as disabled due to cervical cancer requires that the patient submit medical evidence that clearly specifies the diagnosis and location of the cancer, as well as the extent to which it impairs the body. Operative procedures for biopsy or needle aspiration also must be documented, and the results should be included. Summaries of hospitalizations with pathological findings may be accepted as evidence.

Symptoms and Treatment of Cervical Cancer That May Cause Disability

Most cases of early or pre-cancer of the cervix are not immediately noticeable because they generally have few distinct symptoms. The abnormalities that usually lead to a cancer screening can mimic the symptoms of many other female reproductive diseases or conditions, such as STDs and irregular menstrual cycles.

If you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge or pain during vaginal intercourse, it is important to see your doctor immediately to determine the cause. These are some of the symptoms that may indicate risk of cervical cancer or early stages of the disease.

Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the stage of cancer and the severity of the disease. Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue is quite common, as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In many cases, a combination of surgery and therapy is used to ensure all cancerous cells are removed and destroyed.

The side effects of cervical cancer treatment can be the most disabling part of the disease for many women. Radiation and chemotherapy often cause chronic fatigue, metabolic changes and damage to normal healthy cells surrounding the cancerous tissue. The psychological impact also can be devastating, resulting in depression from infertility or pain from the treatment.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits after a Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

Once you have documentation of your condition, you should immediately begin the application for Social Security disability benefits. Approval for SSDI often takes months, even with a fully developed claim, so it's best to get started as soon as you have documentation that you are unable to work due to your condition.

If at any time during the benefit application process you require assistance, you have the right to work with a Social Security disability attorney. An attorney is especially helpful when filing an appeal if your application was denied.

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