If you are unable to work because you suffer from cancer, you might be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. A cancer diagnosis could be devastating, but if it is caught in the early stages you can completely recover. The treatment regimen for cancer can be very stressful and can cause you to suffer from severe side effects that leave you unable to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two different programs that offer monthly disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs both have specific medical criteria that must be met but different secondary requirements.
The Approval Process
The approval process depends on your specific kind of cancer, its stage or severity, and how you are affected by the disease. Some cancers that are either inoperable or more aggressive, that have recurred after a treatment process, or that have spread or metastasized might be eligible for the Compassionate Allowances Program (CAP). CAP allows for a faster processing of the claims for individuals who suffer from some cancers, which means they will receive disability benefits much faster. Examples of these cancers include mesothelioma, pancreatic, esophageal, thyroid, and liver cancers.
For other kinds of cancer, you will need to provide hard medical evidence to the SSA for review by Disability Determination Services. You will need to be able to prove either:
- Your cancer meets the requirements of the disability listing for that specific cancer in the medical guide OR
- Your symptoms or cancer treatments limit you significantly making it impossible for you to work and earn a living
Cancer that has recurred after treatment or that are unresectable by surgery or that are inoperable, or that have spread into distant organs or regions of the body, meet the criteria for disability benefits approval. Here are some more detailed explanations for getting disability because of a cancer diagnosis.
The Medical Criteria
As previously mentioned, getting approval for disability benefits for some kinds of cancer can be simple and straightforward. For other kinds of cancer, you must show either – your cancer meets the requirements of the SSA disability listing in the Blue Book for that specific kind of cancer or – the treatment or the symptoms caused by your cancer are so limiting you can no longer work.
Cancers that are unresectable or inoperable, that have recurred following treatment, or that has spread into other places are also eligible for disability benefits. If your cancer cannot be fully removed, it is unresectable. Under the Blue Book listing for most cancers, any cancer that is unresectable qualifies for disability benefits.
If your tumor is removed by surgery and then it returns in an area near the original site of the tumor or if a tumor returns following radiation or chemo, you have a recurrent cancer as explained under the criteria for your specific kind of cancer. Most cancer listings, including prostate cancer, uterine cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer indicate a recurrent episode qualifies for disability benefits.