According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, we wanted to devote a blog post to explaining what we can do to help breast cancer patients and their families.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and your illness is preventing you from performing your job, you may be eligible for social security disability benefits. We understand that you are focused on fighting this disease, and your loved ones are concentrated on caring for you, so we want you to know that we are committed to taking care of your social security disability claim. In this post, we will provide you with some basic information about the different ways that you might qualify for social security disability with breast cancer.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability for Breast Cancer
As with any social security disability case, in order to qualify for benefits, your illness must prevent you from continuing your current job and learning to perform a new job. The other factor determining your qualification for benefits is the stage (or severity level) that your oncologist assigns to your particular breast cancer diagnosis.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) names the qualifications for disability benefits for breast cancer in their Blue Book listing 13.10. The listing calls for medical evidence demonstrating that your breast cancer has certain characteristics. Your doctor and your social security disability lawyer can help you determine if your specific case of breast cancer meets the SSA criteria. In general, qualification depends on the location and severity of the original tumor and any metastases (spreading of your breast cancer).
What is the Compassionate Allowance for Social Security Disability?
Once your doctor and disability lawyer determine that you meet one or more of the SSA Blue Book criteria for breast cancer, the next question is whether you qualify for the Compassionate Allowance. Breast cancer is one of 88 illnesses that can potentially qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program, which accelerates the social security disability claims process so that benefits are given sooner than they would be in the normal process.
Those who qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program have an advanced stage of cancer with slim to no treatment options and other specific characteristics defined by the SSA. Sometimes an initial diagnosis does not meet the requirements of the Compassionate Allowance program, but then the cancer progresses to the point where it does qualify for this accelerated process.
How does a Medical-Vocational Allowance Apply to Breast Cancer?
If your breast cancer diagnoses does not meet the Blue Book listing qualifications, you could still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. To approve you through a medical-vocational allowance, the SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC), which is the type and amount of work you are able to perform. If based on your RFC, you are unable to perform your current job or easily learn a new one, the SSA may approve you for disability benefits.
In the case of breast cancer, your RFC will be determined based on not only your symptoms from the disease but also the side effects you experience from your surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, such as pain, exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression and mood swings. How much you would be absent from work, where your pain is located, whether you can concentrate and follow directions and other factors resulting from those treatment side effects can make it difficult or impossible to work. Your age may also be a factor, as older people may not be able to learn new job skills as easily.
Now that you are aware of the different ways you might qualify for social security disability benefits, you need to know how to begin the claims process.
Why Do I Need a Disability Lawyer for my Breast Cancer Claim?
When you are suffering from the side effects of breast cancer and its treatment, you certainly don’t want to have your disability claim rejected. In that case, you would either have to manage without benefits or prepare to refile, and again, you won’t want to be bothered with either of those choices when you are ill. This is why you will need a social security disability lawyer to ensure that your claim is complete and accurate, containing all relevant medical evidence to help the process go smoothly and the SSA fully understand the severity of your disability.
Your disability attorney can work with your doctor to procure medical evidence such as exam notes, cancer diagnoses, MRI and lab test results, and treatment history, as well as ensure that you have proper documentation of your finances, identity and employment. An experienced disability attorney will also notice if something is left out, and save you from rejection on a technicality and the burden of reapplying.
Your Memphis Social Security Disability Attorney
Here at Darrell Castle & Associates, we are committed to helping breast cancer patients file successfully for social security disability benefits. We understand that you are suffering, and we want to at least alleviate any stress associated with the social security claims process. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the disease or treatment makes working difficult or impossible, please set up a free consultation with me regarding social security disability benefits.