Millions of Americans struggle with a physical or mental impairment that has a negative effect on their ability to maintain full-time employment. This is turn presents additional challenges, such as how they can support themselves and their families and afford ongoing medical treatment. For people like this, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has two federal disability programs that pay cash benefits to cover their living and medical expenses.
If you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you may not only qualify for disability benefits, but you may receive them much faster than other applicants.
Stomach Cancer Explained
Stomach cancer, which is also known as gastric cancer, forms in the tissues of the stomach lining. It typically affects men over 40, although theoretically anyone can be afflicted. Smoking, heredity, and large gastric polyps are all thought to be factors in determining who develops the disease and who doesn’t. The symptoms are especially painful and debilitating:
- Abdominal pain
- An uncomfortable sense of fullness in the abdomen
- Problems swallowing
- Bloody stools
- Nausea and loss of appetite
Because stomach cancer symptoms mimic more benign conditions such as heartburn, it is often not detected until the later, more serious stages, have been reached. Treatment of Stage IV stomach cancer is primarily palliative, and the prognosis is poor. Therefore, having stomach cancer can qualify you for a Compassionate Allowance, which can result in you getting your benefits much sooner.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
When you apply for benefits, the SSA will verify that your condition meets one of the listings in the Blue Book, which is its catalog of impairments and the medical criteria for each one. Stomach cancer is listed in Section 13.16: Cancer- Esophagus or stomach, which states that you are eligible for disability benefits if you have a diagnosis of stomach cancer that:
- Is inoperable or unresectable
- Has spread to surrounding structures
- Has spread to or beyond nearby lymph nodes OR
- Is a small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma
If your application is approved, the fact that stomach cancer is a Compassionate Allowance condition means that your benefits could arrive much sooner.
The Application Process
Applying for disability benefits is a relatively straightforward process. You submit the completed application to the SSA, along with medical records that confirm your diagnosis. For stomach cancer, this might include:
- Results of physical tests
- Blood work results
- Image scans such as X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans
- Biopsy results
- Results of tests such as an upper endoscopy or endoscopic ultrasound
- Treatment history as well as your response to each treatment
Although the SSA may approve your claim the first time around, the fact is that over two-thirds of all disability applications are denied for various reasons. This is where the assistance of a Social Security disability attorney or advocate can help. Both are professionals who can:
- Explain SSA processes and rules to you
- Ensure that your application contains all required information
- Help you prepare for as well as represent you at an appeal hearing
When the symptoms of stomach cancer leave you unable to work, professional and experienced support from an SSD attorney or advocate can increase your chances of getting the financial support you need.