Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis occurs when a solid tumor spreads to the leptomeninges (the membranes surrounding the brain). Usually these tumors begin as lung tumors, breast tumors, or malignant melanoma. The condition is rare, occurring in only about 5 percent of people who develop cancer. The condition is almost always terminal. Left untreated, the median survival rate is four to six weeks. When treated, the median survival rate increases to two to three months. Symptoms of the condition include headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, memory problems, sensory abnormalities, and incontinence. It goes without saying that individuals who are diagnosed with this condition will likely be able to maintain gainful employment. In such cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help offset some of the financial strain.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
Traditionally, individuals who applied for Social Security Disability benefits would have to wait a minimum of two to four months for benefits to be approved. The SSA recognized, however, that in cases such as leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, such a waiting period was unacceptable. As a result, the SSA rolled out the Compassionate Allowances program, which allows some individuals to be approved for disability benefits in as little as 10 days. Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis is one of the conditions that was included in the Compassionate Allowances program.
To qualify for benefits under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances listing for leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, you will need to furnish the SSA with medical evidence that proves that your condition meets the Compassionate Allowances listing criteria. To do this, you will want to provide the SSA with:
- A diagnosis of LC made with lumbar puncture with positive CSF (cerebral spinal fluid); and Cytology; and
- A gadolinium enhanced multiplanar MRI of the brain, spinal cord, cauda equina, or subependymal areas; and
- A clinical history and examination that describes the diagnostic features of the impairment; and
- Imaging reports of the brain, spinal cord, cauda equina or subepedymal areas showing leptomeningeal enhancement or CSF flow obstruction; and
- Biopsy reports.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits with Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you can apply in person at your local Social Security office or online via the SSA's website. You will be asked to fill out a number of forms during the application process. It is crucial that you fill out each of these forms in their entirety and that you provide detailed answers to each question that is asked. The adjudicator reviewing your claim will use the answers you provide to determine whether or not your condition qualifies you for benefits under the Compassionate Allowances program. Improperly completed claim forms can result in a delay of your Social Security Disability benefits.
It is indeed rare for the SSA to deny a disability claim that is based on a Compassionate Allowances listing. It has, however, been known to happen. Such denials are usually the result of improperly prepared applications or a lack of medical evidence. This is why it is important to provide detailed medical documentation and to complete your claim forms properly.
If you are denied benefits, you should consult with a disability attorney to help you file an appeal. Even though Compassionate Allowances appeals are given priority in the appeal process, statistics show that an appeal is more likely to be successful with the help of a disability lawyer.