The steps involved in applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) with any disabling condition entail essentially the same processes; however, the type of disability you have does influence the information the Social Security Administration (SSA) expects you to present within your application. As July is UV Safety Awareness Month, it seems an appropriate time for discussing the eligibility criteria and disability documentation requirements for SSD applicants who suffer from various forms of skin cancer.
What Types of Skin Cancer Meet SSD Eligibility Requirements?
Melanomas, Sarcomas and Carcinomas all meet SSD eligibility standards under particular circumstances. The SSA defines the eligibility standards for each recognized disability in its “Blue Book”. The Blue Book is the document the SSA’s Disability Determination Services office utilizes when examining applications to decide if they meet the SSD eligibility criteria.
Blue Book definitions for Different Forms of Skin Cancer
Carcinomas and sarcomas must present with regional lymph node involvement or other metastases in order to qualify for SSD benefits. Melanomas qualify under several conditions, including:
- Melanomas that recur after surgical removal of skin lesions.
- Melanomas with metastases in:
- Clinically apparent nodes, diagnosed through physical exam or imaging studies, OR
- Four or more nodes even when not clinically apparent, OR
- Nearby skin tissue or distant sites.
Disability by Definition for Adults under SSA Guidelines
In addition to meeting the condition-specific criteria listed above, individuals who apply for SSD benefits with skin cancer must also meet the standard definition of disability according to SSA guidelines. According the standard definition, in order to be found eligible for disability benefits, applicants must:
- Be unable to maintain gainful employment as a result of physical and/or mental impairment,
- Have either a terminal condition or one that is expected to last no less than 12 months,
- Have a “medically determinable impairment”, or one that can be proven through standard medical evaluation, diagnosis and documentation.
What Constitutes a “Medically Determinable Impairment”?
The clear and consistent documentation of a medical condition is what’s required in order for applicants to establish a “medically determinable impairment” under SSD eligibility guidelines. Applicants document their own symptoms, signs and other details of their medical condition in their application for SSD benefits. Those same details must also be supported by the formal medical documentation that is present in the exhibit file, including lab tests, doctors’ records and other diagnostic details and documents. Statements from the physicians that have treated the condition must also be present in the application in order to satisfy eligibility requirements.
Meeting the SSA’s Skin Cancer Criteria for SSD Benefits
When applying for SSD with a diagnosis of skin cancer, applicants should work closely with their treating physicians to document their illness under the SSA’s Blue Book definition of their specific disease. It can also be helpful to have legal assistance from a Social Security lawyer in navigating the application and review processes for SSD benefits.
A disability attorney that is familiar with the system can assist in putting together a thorough and complete application that meets the SSA’s guidelines. In doing so, he or she may also be able to shorten the wait for a determination on eligibility and get you the benefits to which you may be entitled sooner as a result.