When a physical or mental condition leaves you unable to work, it’s normal to be worried about the future. How will you support your family? What about treatment costs?
Fortunately the Social Security Administration (SSA) has two federal programs designed to assist those who are unable to work due to a serious illness or impairment. Each one is intended for a different type of applicant, but both require you to:
- Meet the SSA definition of disability, which is a disabling condition expected to last at least a year and/or end in death
- Have symptoms that mirror those of a recognized disability
If you are living with bile duct cancer, financial help may be close at hand.
Bile Duct Cancer Explained
Cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, starts in the thin tube that runs between your liver and small intestine. It may be found inside or outside the liver. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with the condition in the United States every year.
Although it tends to affect America’s aging population (the average age when diagnosed is 73) the most, bile duct cancer can theoretically strike you at any age and result in debilitating symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Dark urine
- Intense itching
If this happens to you, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits to help you afford medical treatment, as well as meet your daily cost of living.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
All disability applicants must meet a listing in the Blue Book, which is the SSA catalog of disabling conditions and their qualifying symptoms. Bile duct cancer is referenced in Listing 13.19—Cancer of the Liver or Gallbladder, as it can affect either organ.
If your diagnosis is confirmed by reliable medical documentation, you are automatically considered disabled by the SSA and will qualify for expedited disability benefits, a benefit known as a Compassionate Allowance.
This is because the tumors associated with the cancer cannot be completely removed surgically, essentially rendering it incurable. When the condition appears in the liver (intrahepatic bile duct cancer), it is rarely discovered during the early stages. As a result, the prognosis is often poor.
The Application Process
The application process for disability benefits is relatively straightforward. After picking up an application at your local SSA office or downloading a copy online, you must fill it out and submit it along with medical documentation that confirms your diagnosis. With bile duct cancer, this could include:
- Results of physical examinations
- Ultrasound imaging
- Pathology reports for biopsy specimens
- MRI or CT scans showing organ abnormalities consistent with bile duct cancer
- Records of endoscopies, laparoscopies, and other surgical procedures
- Hospitalization records
- Treatment history as well as your response to each treatment
It is also a good idea to seek input and advice from a qualified and experienced Social Security disability advocate or attorney. Barely one-third of all disability applications are approved the first time around, and expert input can lessen the chance of your claim being rejected.
If it does happen, your advocate or attorney can help you appeal the decision as well as represent you at the resulting hearing.
Bile duct cancer is a debilitating condition to cope with. Professional assistance can help you get the benefits you need to improve your quality of life and take care of your family, putting you in a better frame of mind to fight the disease and make every minute with your loved ones count.