Applying for Breast Cancer Over Age 50

It has been estimated that one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. The symptoms and even the treatment can leave you so debilitated that holding down any kind of employment is practically impossible. If you apply for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits your chances of approval are extremely high, especially if you are over 50 and the SSA grid rules are a factor in evaluating your claim.

Grid Rules and Breast Cancer

The SSA grid rules are used to evaluate your likelihood of being retrained for a different job if you can no longer do your current one. The criteria taken into account when deciding your claim are:

  • Your age
  • Education level
  • Existing skills
  • Whether those skills are transferrable to a new occupation
  • The amount of physical work you can do (light vs. heavy)

These rules are designed to accommodate the reality that when you are over 50, employers are less likely to hire you for entry-level jobs and your skills are less likely to be transferable to other types of employment. Therefore, the SSA may find you disabled even if you can do less demanding work (as reflected in your grid results).

How To Apply for Benefits with Breast Cancer

Here's a little more information on how applying at an older age can help someone qualify for disability benefits.

What Type of Work Can Someone Do With This Condition?

Breast cancer and its treatments can cause debilitating symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath, fever, weight loss, and headaches. Doing any kind of job will eventually be impossible, which is why breast cancer claimants nearly always have their applications approved.

Even if you are in the early stages and can technically do sedentary work as per your grid results, you may still be approved for benefits if you are over 50. For example, a 53-year-old firefighter who can no longer undertake strenuous activity due to breast cancer is more likely to receive benefits than a younger claimant, as older workers are not as likely to be offered entry level positions and their skill sets don’t tend to transfer easily into other occupations.

Meeting a Blue Book Listing

The SSA evaluates all disability claims by consulting the Blue Book, a guidebook of disabling impairments and the criteria for meeting each one. Breast cancer is referenced in Section 13.10: Cancer-Breast, which states that you are disabled if:

  • The cancer has extended past the collarbone and / or reached a minimum of 10 armpit nodes
  • The cancer has spread to your chest, skin, or internal mammary nodes
  • You have small-cell carcinoma
  • The cancer keeps recurring despite treatment

You should be as prepared as possible when applying--here's a little more information on how to qualify for Social Security with breast cancer.

While your chances of a successful disability claim are high when you are over 50 and fighting breast cancer, support from a Social Security disability attorney or advocate can make the process much easier for you. Your attorney can prepare and submit your application, communicate with the SSA on your behalf, and even represent you in the rare event that your initial claim is not successful. Statistics show that working with a professional increases your chances of a successful claim, getting you the benefits you need a lot sooner.

Additional Resources