When you have breast cancer, you might be judged medically qualified for SSDI or SSI disability benefits in three ways.
Breast cancer will be the most common cancer in the world by 2021. In the United States, approximately 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women each year, with 2,400 cases reported in men. When breast cancer is diagnosed early, it has a high chance of remission (meaning the disease's signs and symptoms subside), but treatment side effects might last for a long time.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands how physically and mentally exhausting breast cancer treatment may be. You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you have been unable to work for at least a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is diagnosed using a variety of assays. Not all of the tests outlined here will be utilised on every individual. When selecting a diagnostic test, your doctor may take the following considerations into account:
- - The cancer type suspected
- - Your symptoms and signs
- - Your age and overall well-being
- - Previous medical test results
Imaging (such as an MRI or PET scan), mammograms, and biopsies are used to diagnose breast cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, lumpectomy, and mastectomy are examples of treatment methods that may have significant side effects, require extensive recovery periods, or both.
When you apply for disability benefits, include the names and dates of your doctor's appointments so that Social Security may get those important paperwork.
Breast Cancer Stages
Staging describes how far the breast cancer has gone, including the size of the tumour, if it has migrated to lymph nodes, whether it has spread to distant areas of the body, and what biomarkers are present.
The TNM system is the most often used technique by clinicians to characterise the stage. Doctors utilise diagnostic test and scan findings to address the following questions:
- -Tumor (T): How big is the main breast tumour? What exactly are its biomarkers?
- - Nodes: Has the tumour spread to the lymph nodes (N)? If so, where, what size, and how many are there?
- - Metastasis (M): indicates that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
The data are aggregated to establish each person's cancer stage.
Breast cancer is classified into five stages:
- - stage 0 (zero), which is non-invasive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), and
- - stages I through IV (1–4), which are used for invasive breast cancer.
Breast cancer is classified into phases by oncologists (cancer specialists). The phases indicate how far along your cancer diagnosis has progressed.
Stage 1 cancer signifies that it is tiny and solely affects the breast tissue.
Stage 2 cancer signifies that it is spreading but is still confined in the breast or adjacent lymph nodes.
Stage 3 cancer has progressed to the lymph nodes and surrounding muscles but not to any other organs.
Stage 4 The cancer has progressed to other regions of the body at this stage, such as the brain, bone, lungs, or liver.
Ways to Qualify for Disability Benefits for Breast Cancer
You can get disability compensation in one of three ways, depending on the degree of your breast cancer and if it has metastasized (spread to other regions of your body).
- - Meeting or equaling a stated disability listing to qualify for the Compassionate Allowances programme, or
- - Demonstrating that you are unable to work under a medical-vocational allowance
- - Meeting the symptoms eligible under Social Security's Blue Book of Impairments
Compassionate Allowance for Breast Cancer
The SSA maintains a list of approximately 200 ailments that it believes to be particularly serious. Applicants who have medical evidence of certain disorders are immediately considered disabled. If you have Stage 4 breast cancer, you may be eligible for the Compassionate Allowances List (CAL) and your application may be processed more quickly, allowing you to get payments sooner.
Qualifying for Symptom(s) Under Blue Book of Impairments
If you have an earlier stage of breast cancer, such as Stage 2 or Stage 3, you may be eligible for disability based on Social Security's "listing" for breast cancer. A "listed impairment" is a condition that isn't as severe as a CAL condition but is nonetheless deemed debilitating.
Breast cancer is one of the stated disabilities. To decide whether you are disabled under Listing 13.10 for breast cancer, the SSA will examine your medical record for evidence of at least one of the following:
- - Malignancy that has spread locally (breast cancer that has extended to the chest, skin, or deeper into the breast)
- - Carcinoma (a form of cancer that begins in the skin or organ cells and spreads to the lymph nodes or other organs)
- - Small-cell (oat-cell) carcinoma that recurs after therapy, or secondary lymphedema (a complication from breast cancer treatment).
You can present the breast cancer listing to your doctor and inquire whether your cancer fulfils any of the following criteria.
Qualifying Under Medical Vocational Allowance
Disability applicants in the early stages of breast cancer are less likely to have medical documents that meet the standards of the breast cancer listing (typically because the disease has not progressed or returned after treatment). Even though you do not qualify for disability payments based on the listing, Social Security may determine that your breast cancer is a disability if the agency believes there are no occupations available to you with your residual functional capability (RFC).
Your RFC is a set of constraints that indicate the maximum you can perform in a work context, both physically and cognitively. Because breast cancer therapies can induce discomfort and tiredness, a normal RFC for someone with breast cancer will contain limits on how much weight you can lift and how often you can exercise.
For more information on qualifying for disability benefits for breast cancer symptoms that prevent you from performing daily functioning activities, you can seek legal help from our expert disability attorneys at the Law Office of Irene Ruzin.