Compassionate Allowance - Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

The Social Security disability system was designed to help ease the financial burden of those who have become disabled due to an injury or illness. Depending on your circumstances, if you are disabled, you may qualify for Social Security programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, and Medicaid.

Most people who are applying for Social Security disability, however, do need to be prepared for a lengthy approval process. The SSA assumes that Worker’s Compensation, private disability insurance, and personal savings will be used to support yourself while you are waiting for them to make a determination on your claim. The problem with this, especially for people with potentially terminal conditions, is that this can take a long time. In some cases, it can even take years before a Social Security disability claim is accepted.

Even under ideal circumstances, the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually takes three to six months to approve a disability claim. If appeals are necessary (and they usually are), this adds several more months to the process.

In 2008, the SSA rolled out a new feature, the Compassionate Allowance Listings, which affects people who have conditions which obviously qualify them for disability. Since then, those who have a condition listed for a compassionate allowance do not have to go through the same approval process as others who apply for Social Security disability benefits. Instead the process is streamlined and they are automatically approved. From the time of application to the time when the claimant starts receiving benefits is typically about a month.

Currently, there are 88 conditions which qualify for a compassionate allowance, including a number of cancers, some degenerative neurological conditions, and several childhood disabling conditions. The main criteria the SSA uses to determine whether a condition should be listed for a compassionate allowance is whether all people who have that particular condition are by definition unable to continue working on a meaningful level.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer – Condition and Symptoms

One of the conditions which qualifies for a compassionate allowance is Inflammatory Breast Cancer. This type of breast cancer causes the breast to appear red and swollen. It also causes the skin texture of the breast to resemble that of an orange (with numerous pits across the skin). These cases represent less than 5% of the total breast cancer cases in the US.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer does have a tendency to strike younger women (on average) than other types of breast cancer. It also affects African American women more often than Caucasian women. Men can contract this form of breast cancer as well, but instances are relatively rare.

The symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer are swelling and redness of the breast, aching, a burning sensation, growth in breast size, tenderness of the breasts, inverted nipples, heaviness, and a localized feeling of warmth. Often, there is no detectable lump with this kind of breast cancer. In some cases, swelling of the lymph nodes over the collarbone or in the arm pit is also indicative of inflammatory breast cancer (though they may also point to different conditions).

Inflammatory breast cancer is treated with a mixture of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. When the disease is detected and treated early, the prognosis is reasonably hopeful, though the treatments themselves often make it impossible for a person to continue working.

Unfortunately, Inflammatory Breast Cancer tends to go undiagnosed longer than other forms of breast cancer, largely because a self check often reveals no lumps. Because of this, and the fact that it is a particularly aggressive form of cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer is much more likely to have spread by the time it is caught, making it much more difficult to treat. The survival rate for those with metastasized Inflammatory Brest Cancer is less than half.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Inflammatory Breast Cancer

When you file for Social Security disability benefits because of Inflammatory Breast Cancer, the medical documentation should include the doctor’s report regarding the changes to the skin and the pathology report which was used to diagnose the tumor’s malignancy.

Qualifying for Social Security disability is fairly simple when you have Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Because the SSA will flag your case for a compassionate allowance, you should start receiving benefits in about a month. If you have not received confirmation that your Social Security disability benefits have been approved by then, you or your representative should contact the SSA to find out why you have no received a compassionate allowance.

Your Inflammatory Breast Cancer Social Security Disability Case

Even though you clearly qualify for Social Security disability with your condition, it still is in your best interests to have a professional Social Security disability attorney look over your claim, just to make sure everything is as it should be in your claim. All too often, something which is filed incorrectly or an important medical piece of information which isn’t recorded causes someone to have their benefits delayed.