Each year in the United States, approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. While colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, advanced screening and improved treatments have led to an overall decrease in death rates from the disease.
Colorectal cancer can have a significant impact on one’s personal and professional life. In addition to dealing with the disease itself, the side-effects of potential treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, can be challenging. The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) was designed to assist individuals who have become disabled due to a health condition, such as colorectal cancer.
Why an Awareness Month for Colorectal Cancer?
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and people across the country will be donning the color blue to raise awareness for this deadly disease. Health practitioners and survivors alike aim to spread awareness about the disease in the hopes of decreasing mortality rates.
Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can often be prevented through screening colonoscopies. If found early, colorectal cancer is extremely treatable.
Approximately 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases occur after the age of 50. As such, national guidelines recommend that colorectal cancer screening begin at that time. However, individuals with risk factors such as inflammatory bowel disease or a family history should consider being screened earlier.
How Can Someone with Colorectal Cancer Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you may qualify for disability benefits. The easiest way to qualify for financial assistance is to meet certain medical criteria as outlined by the SSA. The SSA lists all of the qualifying medical conditions in a medical guide known as the Blue Book. Colorectal cancer is included in section 13.18, cancer of the large intestine. In order to qualify for disability benefits utilizing a Blue Book listing, you will need to meet one of the following four criteria:
- Your tumor will need to be inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent
- You will need to have squamous cell carcinoma of the anus that recurs after surgery
- Your cancer will need to have spread beyond the closest lymph nodes
- You will have a small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.
If you do not meet one of the above-listed criteria, yet are still unable to work, you may still qualify for SSDI through a medical-vocational allowance. Winning disability benefits for colorectal cancer through a medical-vocational allowance will require you to provide medical evidence illustrating that your cancer is so severe that you do not have the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform your job.
You will need to clearly demonstrate your physical or mental limitations. For example, colorectal cancer often causes severe weakness and weight loss, which could make it difficult to perform your job or another similar job. Qualifying for SSDI under a Medical Vocational Allowance will vary depending on your age, work history, and the severity of your colorectal cancer.
How Do I Start the Disability Application Process for Colorectal Cancer?
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer that has rendered you unable to work, you may want to consider contacting a Disability attorney or advocate to discuss your case. A qualified lawyer can help you determine whether or not you have enough medical evidence to potentially win your disability case for colorectal cancer.