Portrait of a nice woman recovering after chemotherapy.

Cancer

Can you get Social Security disability benefits with cancer?

Yes, if your cancer or cancer treatment prevents you from working on a regular and continuous basis for at least 12 full continuous months (and not 1 day less!).

How does the Social Security Administration determine eligibility for cancer?

As with most health conditions, Social Security’s main focus is on the impact your cancer is having on your ability to function. Be sure to be open and detailed with your doctors about your symptoms and their frequency and intensity so that your doctor can accurately notate how your cancer is effecting you in their records. You will want to make sure you are addressing these important questions when seeking Social Security disability benefits for cancer:

  • Are you dealing with symptoms such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of focus, etc?
  • Are you dealing with side effects of your treatment regimen (medications, chemo, radiation, surgeries, etc)?
  • How many days per month are you in a doctor’s office or a treatment facility?
  • Are you struggling to complete any household chores or your personal care?
  • What stage of cancer do you have and what is your prognosis?

These are all important and relevant questions that need to be asked and answered. It can be difficult to put into words how a cancer diagnosis affects various aspects of your life. Competent legal counsel can help you find those words and marshal the evidence to prove your disability case.

What types of cancer qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

Any type of cancer can result in your disability case being granted under the appropriate conditions. To name a few:

  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Pleural or Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Rare Cancers
  • Salivary Cancer
  • Sinonasal Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Spinal Cord Cancer
  • Any Small Cell Cancers
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • And many more

How does a cancer diagnosis qualify for disability benefits?

There are three ways cancer can result in a win:

  1. First, rarer cancer diagnoses automatically qualify you for benefits if that diagnosis is on a list of conditions called “Compassionate Allowances.” This is the least common way to win a case because only very rare forms of cancers are considered Compassionate Allowances.
  2. Second, your cancer may entitle you to benefits if it meets what is called a “listing.” There is a listing for every major body/organ system in which cancer tends to appear. Every listing requires your medical record to contain very specific objective findings that meet each of the listing’s criteria. The types of cancers that meet listings are typically those that have come out of remission or have metastasized locally. If your cancer meets a listing, then you are likely fighting an aggressive form of cancer with multiple treatment modalities.
  3. Third, and the most common way to win, is if you can prove that you are unable to work on a regular and continuing basis (defined as 8 hours per day, 5 days per week) due to your symptoms and treatment.

Navigating the disability process can be a daunting and stressful journey. We are here to make that journey less arduous. We know life can be incredibly difficult dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatments. Call us with any questions you have, we are here to help!