The process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is typically a very lengthy process, beginning with the three to four month average wait most applicants experience for their initial claim review. The majority of applicants are also initially denied benefits, which means they must go through a second round review and eventually an appeal (in most cases) before seeing a final determination on their eligibility by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA). In all, the process can take a year or more.
Because those who have very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses don’t have months or years to wait for SSDI benefits, the SSA instituted the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008. CAL is intended to speed up the review and approval process for conditions in which disability is unarguably present.
There are 113 conditions on the CAL program list currently and another 52 which were recently approved for addition to the list, effective August 13, 2012. Among the newly approved conditions is Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site, or CUP, as it is also commonly known.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site, the following information will help you understand the SSA’s review process for disability claims. It may also help you increase your chances of being quickly approved for disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site – Condition and Symptoms
CUP is the diagnosis patients receive when cancer is found and has already metastasized or spread. Cancer can start anywhere in the body and is commonly named for the site where it starts, like lung cancer, breast cancer, etc. However, some cancers spread but the original tumor or tumors from which they originate cannot be determined. In these cases, the cancer is considered CUP for the official diagnosis.
Due to advancements in medical technology and techniques, most cancer can be more specifically identified, even after it has spread. In most cases (4 out of 5), doctors are able to examine cancer cells anywhere in the body and determine where the original tumor occurred.
Because it takes time to run additional tests, almost every case of metastatic cancer is first diagnosed as CUP, though 80 percent will later be reclassified once the origin of the cancer is determined through further testing. In the other 20 percent of cases, where the origin cannot be determined, the diagnosis of CUP will remain the formal condition of record.
The kind of treatment patients receive is determined by where the cancer started, as it can respond very differently dependent upon where it began. Likewise, the prognosis for the patient is also strongly dependent upon the true form of the cancer cells.
For patients whose diagnosis remains Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site, the course of treatment is usually decided based on where cancer cells are present in the body after it has spread. The outlook for these patients can vary widely, and may include surgical removal of tumors, chemotherapy, radiation and drug therapy treatments.
Some people may go through more experimental treatments, hoping for results. And still other of CUP cannot be treated and are terminal, having advanced too far for treatment or simply being a form of cancer which does not respond to any of the available treatments.
The approval of Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site under the SSA’s CAL program allows individuals with metastatic cancer to seek disability benefits sooner, before their cancer is reclassified. The same is true for people who never find out where their cancer originated. They can now be considered for benefits under CAL without jumping through as many hoops to be approved.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Cancer of Unknown Primary Site
Receiving a diagnosis of CUP is devastating. Treatment for cancer is harsh on the body and can prevent many who suffer from CUP from being able to work. The SSA recognizes the disabling nature of the disease itself and the side effects of treatment, which is the reason for its addition to the CAL list.
When you file for SSDI benefits with a diagnosis of Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site, you will need to include as much evidence of your disability as possible in your claim. Many people mistakenly think that the diagnosis of CUP alone will get them approved for benefits. Instead, you should place all of your medical records in your application, including test results and labs in addition to written statements from all your doctors. The importance of medical documents cannot be overstated. Oftentimes claims are denied and have to go to a disability hearing due to lack of medical evidence present in the claimant's exhibit file.
Your Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site Social Security Disability Case
You’ll need to make your SSDI application as thorough as possible to be approved for benefits without further reviews and delays. A Social Security Disability attorney who is familiar with the application process can help you ensure your file is foolproof. Having legal assistance can also help you get through the review process more quickly and with a more desirable outcome.
To learn more about the Social Security Compassionate Allowance listings or to discover whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site, request a free case evaluation today.