How Severe Does My Cancer Have To Be to Get Disability?

Hundreds of conditions are listed in the Social Security Administration's Blue Book that qualifies for disability benefits, but applicants must remember that their condition must be severe enough to qualify. If you have a medical condition serious enough to prevent you from going to work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for a disability benefit.

Cancer Blue Book Listing

Cancer appears under 13.00 in the SSA’s Blue Book. When diagnosed with cancer or receiving treatment for it, you may suffer the following symptoms which can affect your daily life:

  • Pain can be caused by cancer or by cancer treatment
  • Fatigue is sometimes associated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments
  • Difficulty in breathing can be caused by cancer or cancer treatment
  • Some cancers induce nausea, and cancer treatments can also cause nausea; your doctor can sometimes predict whether or not your treatment will produce nausea.
  • Diarrhea or constipation can occur with cancer and cancer treatment
  • Weight loss

To be eligible to receive disability benefits you will need to show the results of tests. Diagnostic tests for cancer can include the following:

  • Physical examination conducted by a doctor
  • Laboratory tests such as urine and blood tests
  • Imaging tests such as an x-ray or ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scan, positron emission tomography (pet) scan, or computerized tomography (ct) scan
  • Biopsy of cells to be tested in the laboratory

How Severe Does My Cancer Have To Be To Get Disability?

Applying for Disability Benefits with Cancer

Even if your cancer is listed in the Blue Book, it doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for disability benefits. Approximately two-thirds of initial applications are turned down. Technical issues with applications, such as insufficient evidence of cancer and the inability to prove that you would be unable to work for at least 12 months, are two of the most common reasons for denial.

Working with an attorney can assist you in better understanding the SSA's designated conditions and related medical requirements, as well as your current status.

How Cancer May Affect You and Your Family

One of the key problems of being diagnosed with a disabling medical condition like cancer is that it is hard for your family to cope with. You are not only in a constant financial bind because you are unable to work, but you are also under a great deal of stress as a result of your disability and the financial strain it may entail. Other features that affect your daily life could include:

  • Inability to do seemingly basic life tasks without help
  • Suffering mentally and emotionally because of your health condition
  • Feeling unable to participate in many of the activities that once brought you joy
  • Falling short in providing the income your family needs to survive and thrive.

Next Steps

Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event but there is financial help available if the evidence shows your cancer diagnosis will stop you from working for at least 12 months. If you are unsure how to file a claim for disability benefits, complete a free case evaluation today!

Additional Resources