How to Apply for Disability when You have Bladder Cancer

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs ensure you have monthly income, even when bladder cancer makes it impossible to maintain employment. Only advanced, aggressive, and untreatable forms of bladder cancer can automatically qualify for benefits though. In all other cases, you can only qualify if your cancer or treatments leave you with severe impairments that make it impossible to work in any job.

For example, if your cancer was advanced but was successfully treated via surgical removal of the entire bladder, you may experience frequent or lasting complications, like incontinence issues, persistent infections, or the development of stones in the reconstructed bladder pouch. Any of these common complications can stop you from working in even a sedentary or office job, let alone a physically challenging one, like a manufacturing position.

Do You Qualify Medically for Benefits?

A severe disability that has or is expected to last at least 12 months is necessary to qualify for disability from the SSA. Bladder cancer is often highly treatable though, frequently allowing a return to work before a year has passed. The SSA must decide if you are severely disabled and therefore qualified for benefits.

To do this, they first review your medical records to determine if you meet the bladder cancer disability listing. This listing appears in 13.22 of the Blue Book, and you and your doctor will want to look it over too. If this listing describes your cancer, then you know you “automatically” medically qualify.

Even with automatic qualification though, the SSA will still need to see “medically acceptable” evidence to support your claim. In other words, they must find records typical of bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment in your medical history. These may include lab work, like urine tests that look for cancer cells, or other diagnostic test results, like a cystoscopy report, from when the doctor ran a scope into your bladder.

The SSA will also need to see records of your treatments, how those treatments worked, and any residual effects or limitations you experience. This is true whether you meet the bladder cancer listing or not. These details help the SSA determine how severe your impairments are and whether you can or cannot work now and in the future.

In some cases, they may grant disability benefits, even when bladder cancer is successfully treated. If the disease or treatments cause severe limitations, you may still qualify, but the only way the SSA knows this is if you tell them in your application, your doctor records notes about it in your records, and if you and your doctor both fill out any additional forms that the SSA requests, like functional reports.

Preparing to Apply

How to Apply for Benefits When You Have Bladder Cancer

Whether you automatically qualify or suspect you’ll have to fight a little harder to get approved, you may wish to consult an attorney or advocate that’s familiar with bladder cancer disability claims. He or she will be able to advise you on filling out your application, gathering evidence, and filing appeals, if necessary.

Consider gathering as much evidence and other required documentation as you can prior to starting your application. This will make the application go more smoothly and potentially prevent delays in the processing of your claim too. Documents you’ll need include not just medical bills or contact information for your doctors but also employment records, like pay stubs, and financial details, like those found on your last income tax return and your most recent bank statements.

Additional Resources