Compassionate Allowance - Esophageal Cancer

The Compassionate Allowance program is designed so that people with conditions which obviously cause them to qualify as disabled under the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s narrow definition of the term can be moved more quickly through the system. This allows them to begin to receive Social Security disability benefits in a timelier manner.

Whereas the traditional Social Security disability claim takes an average of three to six months before a decision is rendered, and typically lasts another year beyond that while a claimant works though the appeals process, those who qualify for a compassionate allowance can expect to have the entire process completed and begin receiving Social Security disability benefits in as little as three weeks.

At the time of this writing, there are 88 conditions which the SSA recognizes for compassionate allowances. The SSA is conducting ongoing hearings to determine which other conditions might qualify for the program, as it is in everyone’s best interests to ensure timely payment of benefits to those who obviously qualify for them.

Most of the conditions which qualify for compassionate allowances are rare or terminal cancers, progressive neurological disorders, and other rare debilitating diseases and syndromes. As with any other Social Security disability claim, the condition must be expected to last at least a year or to end in your death. Most of the conditions listed for Compassionate Allowances have relatively low survival rates, which is part of the reason the SSA recognizes the need to start paying benefits sooner rather than later.

Esophageal Cancer – Condition and Symptoms

Esophageal cancer is a cancer which originates in the esophagus. There are two distinct kinds of esophageal cancer, either of which qualifies for a Compassionate Allowance.

The first type of esophageal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which set in the flat cells which line the esophagus. The second is adenocarcinoma, which begins in the mucus producing cells or the cells which release other fluids. Either type of esophageal cancer is prone to spreading widely beyond the primary tumor. In medical terms, this type of cancer typically has distant metastases. Often, the first sign of esophageal cancer is difficulty swallowing or a feeling of having an obstruction in your throat.

When a patient has symptoms which a doctor feels may signify esophageal cancer, an esophagram (barium swallow with x-rays) is usually performed. If this test reveals a likely tumor, an esophagoscopy is performed along with a biopsy. When it is determined that cancer is present, doctors may use CT scans, PET scans, bronchoscopy, or bone scans to determine whether or not the cancer has spread and to what degree.

Esophageal cancer is typically treated with surgery, though radiation therapy and chemotherapy are being used in more and more cases. While there is sometimes hope for a cure when the esophageal cancer is caught early, the prognosis is not generally good for those whose cancer has metastasized.

Esophageal cancer is often terminal even when it is caught in the early stages, which is part of the reason it qualifies for a compassionate allowance under the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s guidelines. Even those who are able to survive the disease and its treatment are typically disabled for long periods of time after treatment is concluded.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Esophageal Cancer

Filing for Social Security disability benefits with esophageal cancer is generally straight forward. The medical documentation required typically amounts to a biopsy report showing the existence and extent of the cancer and to what degree it has progressed.

Most esophageal cancer Social Security disability claims will sail through the Social Security disability system quickly because they will be automatically flagged for the compassionate allowances program. If your case is not resolved within a month, you should contact the SSA and, if necessary, a Social Security disability lawyer.

Many people find it helpful to have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer handle their case right from the beginning. Even though you undoubtedly qualify for disability benefits by virtue of having esophageal cancer, having a Social Security disability attorney can help make the process much smoother, and can ensure that there are none of the errors which typically cause such cases to get tied up longer than they should.

Your Esophageal Cancer Social Security Disability Case

Using a Social Security disability lawyer is generally very inexpensive for compassionate allowance cases. This is because Social Security lawyers are either 25% of the back pay which is owed to you or $6, 000, whichever is less. In most compassionate allowance cases, there is much less back pay at stake because the cases don’t generally go through the appeals process unless something is wrong with the paperwork (which generally doesn’t happen when it’s filled out by a Social Security disability attorney).