Benign Brain Tumors and Social Security Disability

Benign brain tumors can have many of the same effects as malignant tumors, producing communication, sensory processing, and motor control impairments in addition to seizures, pain, or loss of sensation, paralysis and other serious complications and symptoms.

Some tumors may be surgically removed, while others are inoperable due to their size or location. In either event, benign tumors that develop in the brain can potentially qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Medically Qualifying with Benign Brain Tumors

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has standard methods for evaluating disability claims. These include reviewing medical conditions under listings that appear in the Blue Book, which is a manual of recognized disabilities and the medical evidence required for supporting a claim with each condition.

There is no single listing for all forms of benign brain tumors and because these tumors can cause a range of complications and symptoms, the SSA has several listings they may consult when evaluating your claim for benefits, including:

  • Section 11.02 – Convulsive epilepsy
  • Section 11.03 – Non-convulsive epilepsy
  • Section 11.04 – Central nervous system vascular accident or stroke

With convulsive and non-convulsive epilepsies, the frequency, duration, and severity level of seizures must be well documented to qualify for benefits.

With stroke-like symptoms, your medical records must show you’ve suffered:

  • severe loss of speech or communication abilities
  • OR

  • significant impairments with two or more extremities.

If your medical records do not meet any of the previous listings, disability determination staff may review listings for the body systems that are affected by your condition. For example, if your brain tumor causes hearing or vision loss, the listings for these conditions will be consulted to determine your eligibility for benefits.

When the SSA is unable to match your condition to a listing, they next evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC), which essentially means they look at how your symptoms and complications affect your everyday abilities.

If your activities of daily living (ADLs) and your ability to perform typical job functions are so limited by your condition that you’re unable to maintain a job in which you can earn a gainful living, then the SSA will find you eligible for SSD under what is known as a medical vocational allowance.

Getting Help with Your Claim

A Social Security advocate or disability attorney can help you prepare for and file your claim. They can also support you in collecting the necessary medical evidence and in fighting for benefits, if you initially receive a denial notice from the SSA.

An application for benefits can be filed online via the SSA’s website or at your local SSA office. You can schedule an appointment with the local office by calling 1-800-772-1213 or begin your application at any time online. Either way, be sure you forward or drop off copies of your medical records at your local office to provide the SSA the proof necessary to approve your claim.