Can I Get Disability Benefits for Breast Cancer?
Posted on behalf of Phillips Disability, P.C. on Oct 12, 2017 in Qualifying Conditions
Breast cancer forms in breast tissue, typically in the ducts and lobules. Although it affects women at greater rates, it can also affect men. Many individuals who have breast cancer face a poor prognosis and a difficult treatment and recovery process. The disease itself and treatment options often make work difficult or impossible. Individuals who are unable to work due to breast cancer may decide to pursue a Social Security Disability claim for financial assistance.
The trusted Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys at Phillips Disability have represented individuals who have been denied disability benefits for a variety of reasons. We are prepared to assist you with your application for benefits and to represent you at each stage of the process.
Our knowledgeable attorneys describe the eligibility for disability benefits based on breast cancer below. If you have questions after reading this information, contact us. We can discuss your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.
Is Breast Cancer a Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established that various conditions meet its definition of a disability. The general requirements to be considered disabled for any medical impairment include:
- The impairment has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or is expected to cause the claimant’s death
- The person cannot perform the work that he or she performed before acquiring the impairment
- The person cannot perform other types of work based on his or her impairment and other factors
Disability benefits are reserved for individuals who have serious and long-term health conditions. Not all individuals who have breast cancer will meet the definition of having a disability, as defined by the SSA. Individuals can establish their eligibility through medical documentation and other supporting evidence.
To meet SSA’s requirements, individuals must meet the requirements listed in the Blue Book listing for breast cancer. This requires that the breast cancer meet or equal one of these descriptions:
- Locally advanced cancer, which consists of inflammatory carcinoma, tumor of any size with direct extension of cancer cells to the chest wall or skin, or tumor of any size with metastases to the ipsilateral internal mammary nodes
- Carcinoma with metastases to the supraclavicular or infraclavicular nodes, to ten or more axillary nodes, or with distant metastases
- Recurrent carcinoma, except local recurrence that remits with antineoplastic therapy
- Small-cell carcinoma
- Cancer with secondary lymphedema that an antineoplastic therapy causes that is treated through surgery to try to save the functional ability of an upper extremity. This is an edema that is the result of an obstruction or destruction of typical lymphatic channels.
The SSA may base the disability on the timing of the surgery and may require the cancer to still be present for at least 12 months after the surgery date. However, in some instances, the SSA uses an earlier onset date if there is medical evidence to support this finding.
Medical tests that will support your claim include:
- Clinical breast exam
Compassionate Allowance Listing
The SSA includes a list of Compassionate Allowance conditions that provides for expedited processing of Social Security Disability claims. Due to the seriousness and progressive nature of these conditions, Social Security can sometimes approve a disability claim in as little as ten days.
Aggressive forms of breast cancer are listed on Compassionate Allowance list. In addition to providing evidence to establish that your cancer meets the medical eligibility listed above, you must provide medical evidence of the following:
- A physician’s opinion that the cancer is inoperable or unable to be removed with surgery
- An operative note stating that the cancer is inoperable or unable to be removed with surgery
- A pathology report that indicates positive margins may be substituted
Medical Vocational Allowance
For individuals who do not meet the Blue Book or Compassionate Allowance listing, another avenue to pursue disability benefits is through a medical-vocational allowance.
This process allows you to demonstrate that you can no longer perform the most recent work you completed on your last job or any other work, based on your medical impairments, age, education, work history and job skills.
You will be assessed for your physical and possible mental residual functional capacity. Your treating doctor may also prepare information for the SSA to consider in its determination.
Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you were diagnosed with breast cancer and believe that you meet the eligibility criteria discussed above, it is important that you contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney who can review your claim.
At Phillips Disability, our Social Security Disability lawyers are committed to helping our clients pursue the benefits they need and deserve. Treating breast cancer can cause a significant monetary strain on any family. Disability benefits can often establish a financial lifeline for many patients.
We can help you appeal a denied claim and guide you through every level of the appeals process. We take Social Security Disability cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you only have to pay us if we help recover benefits on your behalf.
Call 1-800-503-2000 to get started today.