Cancer Patients May Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

In 2015, just over 11 percent of Kentuckians were receiving some form of a Social Security Disability (SSD) benefit payment, the second highest percentage in the country. And, since 2002, the percentage of Kentucky’s population receiving disability payments has never fallen below second among the fifty states. Those who have been diagnosed with cancer fall into the top five conditions alongside beneficiaries who are battling other diseases and mental disorders.

Treating cancer is expensive and although new treatments are increasing in popularity, chemotherapy, radiation and cancer drugs remain costly common methods. In fact, health officials from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reports the average cost of a one-month supply of cancer drugs sit at $10,000. When you add the costs of battling cancer with other medical necessities and treatments like surgeries, biopsies, imaging, lab work, appointments, and the inability to work, costs pile up and life becomes overwhelming. For some cancer patients though, being able to qualify for SSD benefits, medical insurance costs and financial hardships caused by cancer can be offset a bit.

Perhaps you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer and in need of SSD benefits, so the attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads first want to let you know we care and want to help and second, we have put together some brief information to help you understand SSD claims and how to find out if you are eligible for benefits.

Types of Cancer Most Often Eligible for SSD Benefits

According to the American Cancer Society, there are six major types of cancer including leukemia, carcinomas, lymphoma, myeloma, sarcoma and cancer of the central nervous system. When you apply for disability benefits with the SSA, the individual who reviews your claim will refer to its Blue Book of listed impairments. Cancer is included in this listing under Section 13.00. Some of the cancers most commonly reviewed are:

  • Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases)
  • Soft tissue cancers of the head and neck
  • Skin
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Salivary glands
  • Thyroid gland
  • Breast
  • Skeletal system–sarcoma
  • Maxilla, orbit or temporal fossa
  • Nervous system
  • Lungs
  • Pleura or mediastinum
  • Esophagus or stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Liver or gallbladder
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys, adrenal glands, or ureters–carcinoma
  • Urinary bladder–carcinoma
  • Cancers of the female genital tract–carcinoma or sarcoma
  • Prostate gland– carcinoma
  • Testicles
  • Penis
  • Cancer treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation
  • Malignant melanoma

Knowing if You Qualify for Social Security Disability with Cancer

Unfortunately, patients who suffer from less serious forms of cancer may not initially qualify for SSD benefits. So, if you are diagnosed with cancer and are applying for SSD benefits, first gather as much medical documentation as possible when submitting your claim to the SSA. This includes but not limited to:

  • Surgical or biopsy notes, or a report from a physician noting why cancer is not operable or can’t be removed
  • Biopsy results or a pathology report documenting the type of cancer you have
  • Imaging scans showing the location(s) of tumors or spread of the disease
  • Details of your cancer treatments, including how often you undergo them and what their affects have been

If you can provide enough objective evidence proving the severity of your condition, you may be approved for benefits during the initial stage of the SSD application process. Since a diagnosis of cancer is not enough to qualify an individual for SSD benefits, applicants can qualify for benefits when their condition is severe enough that it prevents them from performing any type of gainful work activity in at least 12 months’ time.

How to Qualify Checklist

  • To qualify, go to the SSA office to make your file to intent known and establish a protected filing date to assist with back pay calculations.
  • You must have worked and paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) premiums while you were working.
  • You must be completely unable to perform any work which you have ever performed in the past.
  • SSA must deem you incapable of adjusting to other work which is currently available for someone of your physical and mental abilities and level of education.
  • Most workers will need to have worked for at least five of the past ten years in order to be insured.

Unfortunately, many people who should qualify for SSD benefits, even those battling cancer, have their initial claims initially rejected. If an application for benefits has been denied by the SSA, the next step for that person would be to contact an attorney as soon as possible since there is a 60-day time limit from the date a determination letter was received to appeal the SSA’s decision to deny benefits. Disability applicants can wait more than a year before receiving an appeal day in court.

Some forms of fast moving cancer can also qualify under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program. Most cancers will qualify as a CAL if one of the following has occurred:

  • The cancer has spread beyond the region of origin
  • The cancer is inoperable
  • The cancer is recurrent despite treatment

Having an attorney may position them for the best chance of obtaining a favorable hearing outcome. Statistics show that Kentucky SSD applicants are more likely to receive benefits when working with a qualified disability lawyer.

Owensboro Disability Lawyers – We Are Here For You

Rhoads & Rhoads has been protecting the rights of the injured throughout Western Kentucky for over 43 years. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and are pursuing SSD benefits, our team is available to help get you the financial recovery you deserve.

We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no payment required up front. We get paid only if we win or settle your case, so there is NO RISK involved. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment at our Madisonville or Owensboro offices.