If you have a physical and/or mental impairment that impedes your ability to work full-time, you may be eligible for one of the Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits programs. When it comes to disability payments, the SSA will generally consider you eligible if your illness:
- Keeps you from doing the kind of work you are trained for
- Is expected to last at least a year or end in your death
The SSA will also review your age, education, work history and, for some programs, income levels. Some illnesses can qualify for expedited consideration of your application, and you can get your benefits payments sooner if approved. One of those qualifying illnesses is cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer Explained
Cervical cancer occurs when healthy cervical cells mutate into abnormal ones that grow and multiply rapidly. These cells can unite to form a tumor and, in some cases, break away to affect cells in other parts of the body, such as the vagina, liver, lymph nodes, and lungs.
Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and heavy discharges. Cervical cancer can also result in death: an estimated 4,210 women died from the disease in 2016.
There are two main types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma: originates in the cells lining the outer cervix
- Adenocarcinoma: affects the glandular cells along the cervical canal.
Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a cone biopsy, laser surgery, cryosurgery, and even a hysterectomy. Some of the treatment options are so intense that they can hinder your ability to work.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
When you apply for one of the SSA disability benefits programs, the SSA will confirm that your disability appears in the Blue Book. There is a listing for cervical cancer in Section 13.23- Cancers of the female genital tract, which states that you will be considered disabled if the cancer:
- Has extended to the pelvic wall, lower vagina, and other organs
- Keeps returning despite anticancer treatment
- Has spread to distant lymph nodes
If you have small-cell cancer of the female genital tract, which includes the cervix, vagina, and fallopian tube, the SSA will consider you disabled.
You will also qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, which the SSA reserves for particularly serious impairments. This means that your application will be reviewed more quickly and, if it is approved, you will receive your cash benefits much faster.
The Application Process
Your first step in the process is to submit an application form to the SSA. The submission package must include medical records that shows the SSA medical advisors how far the cancer has spread and the extent to which it has affected your ability to work. Relevant records might include:
- Results of physical examinations
- Image scans such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
- Colposcopy or cystoscopy results
- Pathology reports for cervical biopsy or endocervical scraping
- Treatment history as well as your response to each treatment
Many people get overwhelmed by the Social Security disability application process. Legitimate claims are denied, the arrival of benefits can be delayed, and the appeal process is difficult to navigate. One way to prevent these difficulties is to hire a Social Security disability attorney or advocate.
These professionals can simplify the process for you by ensuring that your application is complete, so that your claim has a higher chance of success. If you do happen to be denied the first time around, your attorney or advocate will support you and argue your case at the appeal hearing.
The sooner you start receiving your benefits, the sooner you can focus on fighting cancer; recovery is easier with experienced help in your corner.