April 7-14 is Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week

The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, supported by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, organize a weeklong series of events to promote an awareness of oral, head, and neck cancer.

The weeklong event includes a day of free cancer screenings offered in different areas across the U.S. About 550,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer are diagnosed around the world every year.

Why is Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Week Observed?

In the United States there are about 110,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer diagnosed each year. Oral, head and neck cancer usually refer to squamous cell carcinoma of the throat, tongue, and voice box.

Head and neck cancer can also refer to other kinds of cancer in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, thyroid glands, voice box, or throat.

Cancers of the head and neck account for about 6 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. and 66 percent of all oral, head and neck cancers are not discovered until later in the disease, such as stages three or four.

Smoking cigarettes increase your risk of head and neck cancers 15 times of that of a non-smoker, and alcohol and tobacco usage are leading contributors to voice box and mouth cancers.

Qualifying For Disability Benefits With Oral, Head, and Neck Cancers

If you have oral, head, or neck cancer and you are unable to work because of the cancer or because of the treatment, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

If you have cancer that has recurred after treatment, or if your cancer is inoperable or unresectable, your claim will be approved just so long as supporting medical evidence is supplied to the SSA for review.

The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a claimant is eligible for disability benefits. The book has sections that cover different body systems, and under each section there are different disabling conditions that apply to that system.

Each listing has criteria that must be met for a claimant to qualify for disability benefits under that listing.

Using A Medical Vocational Allowance

Your claim could still be approved even if you don’t meet the specific criteria of a listing. You could use a medical vocational allowance, which takes your age, medical history, restrictions, limitations, work history, skills, educational background, and other factors into consideration.

Your physician should complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which details your abilities, restrictions and limitations so the disability examiner can accurately assess your condition and determine if you are capable of working and earning a living.

Getting Your Disability Claim Underway

If you have oral, head or neck cancer, you can start your claim for disability benefits at the SSA website, which is www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and scheduling an appointment at your local field office or by speaking with a representative over the phone. A disability attorney can improve your odds of a successful disability claim.

Additional Resources