Any cancer diagnosis, including acute leukemia, can be alarming and life altering. If you have been positively diagnosed with acute leukemia and it is impacting your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to individuals who are deemed totally and permanently disabled because of a medical condition. In some instances, his or her dependents may also be eligible to receive benefits.
In order to be eligible for SSDI, the individual must have worked enough to have an adequate number of credits and have sufficiently paid in Social Security taxes so he or she would be eligible to reap the insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not offer benefits for temporary or partial disability. Instead, the individual must meet the requirements to be classified as totally and permanently disabled per the SSA guidelines.
During the application process, the SSA will receive a large amount of documentation pertaining to your medical condition, including proof of how the illness and treatment impact your ability to work, any treatment plans or medications that are necessary for your condition and then any side effects or symptoms that you may be suffering from because of your condition. These documents are used to determine if you meet the SSA’s guidelines for disabled.
Financial Expenses Related to an Acute Leukemia Diagnosis
While there are different kinds of leukemia, but according to the NCBI PubMed.gov website the costs are very high for the aggressive disease. Acute leukemia requires intensive treatment involving several courses of chemotherapy to attain a full remission. Following the that form of treatment, there is consolidation treatment that may include more high-dose chemotherapy or even a stem cell transplant for patients who have not yet reached 60 years of age.
With expensive hospital stays included, the average cost for treating acute leukemia ranges from $187,315 to $327,194. While this form of cancer can impact people of various ages, treatment options may vary and can significantly be impacted by the age of the patient. Transplantation increases treatment costs significantly. Transplantation is much more likely to be used on younger patients and is more likely to extend lifespan in those who are younger.
The Evaluation Conducted by the Social Security Administration and the Medical Qualifications
The SSA follows strict guidelines to determine whether an individual meets the requirements to receive SSDI benefits. In order to receive benefits, the patient has to be considered permanently and totally disabled per the guidelines set for in the SSA Blue Book. The step-by-step disability determination process revolves around five questions set forth by the SSA.
Accessing your medical records is a major step in the disability determination process. Those records will include your actual medical diagnosis, lab and test results, how the diagnosis and symptoms impact your life and your long-term medical prognosis. Also, there are lists of medications you must take along with their side-effects and any treatment plans you may be subjected to during the attempts to put the cancer in remission. The SSA Blue Book has a list of all major body systems, which includes listings of medical conditions that warrant approval for disability benefits.
The SSA has a much stricter set of guidelines than many organizations for determining whether or not someone is disabled. Temporary, short-term disability or partial disability is not considered for benefits. In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you have to be totally and permanently disabled, which means you have to suffer from the “complete inability to work”.
There will be an investigation conducted by Disability Determination Services to confirm you cannot do your previous work. In addition, they will see if you have any skills that can be transferred, any other medical problems you have and how they impact you, your educational levels and your age to see if you can adjust to some other kind of employment. They will determine if you have been disabled a year or longer or if your disability is expected to last more than a year or result in your death.
The Blue Book has specifications about how acute leukemia, classified a neoplastic disease as a malignant listing, will most easily qualify for benefits. In state that the specific listing evaluates certain and specific malignant neoplasms, but not certain neoplasms associated with HIV infection. The origin of the malignancy, the duration and extent of the involvement of the malignancy, the response to therapy and the frequency of therapy as well as how post-therapeutic residuals have effected your life are considered.
- According to the guide, the diagnosis is confirmed by a cerebrospinal, peripheral blood or bone marrow examination along with the pathology follow-up reports.
- In addition, there are special procedures regarding the evaluation of neoplastic diseases with malignancies that have been treated by bone marrow transplants or stem cell transplantation.
- If the patient undergoes a transplant, he or she is rendered disabled until at least 24 months from the date of diagnosis or relapse, or at least 12 months from the date of transplantation, whichever is alter.
- Then, there will be a re-evaluation to see if benefits continue.
Qualifying for Disability Using an RFC if the Blue Book Listing Doesn’t Meet the Needs
If your acute leukemia diagnosis does not qualify you for SSDI benefits right away, you may still be eligible for benefits based on a residual functioning capacity form (RFC). This is a document that contains complete details as provided and completed by your physician. This determines that you are unable to continue with your regular job or adjust to a different kind of employment.
In the case of acute leukemia, the RFC may specify how undergoing chemotherapy affects your ability to work, rendering you fatigued and nauseated. The RFC will also indicate how the weakness has impacted your ability to stand, bend, lift or sit for specified time periods. Sometimes the RFC contains much more detailed information than found in your medical records so if can accurately portray how your life has changed because of the diagnosis and the treatment.
Applying Specific Medical Tests
While the SSA will have access to your documents and medical records, it is not uncommon for them to cover the cost to order an additional medical evaluation to verify the statements they have received and to confirm that you are indeed disabled. Routine tests, such as bloodwork or x-rays may also be included in the evaluation.
These additional evaluations, paid for by the SSA, may help them determine that you are indeed disabled and unable to work. They will then determine you are eligible for SSDI benefits for your medical conditions.