A brain cancer diagnosis is devastating and the affects of the disease and the required treatments certainly prevent employment. Brain cancer, no matter the type or stage, can qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is important to understand though that the form, grade, and stage of the cancer will affect how the SSA reviews your claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. For help in applying for your claim be sure to read our article Tips on Applying for Disability Benefits with Brain Cancer
Medically Qualifying with Brain Cancer
The requirements are set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first of these is that disability caused by the brain cancer must have lasted or expected to last at least 12 months. The next most important feature is the listing in the Blue Book which is the responsibility of the SSA.
As long as the disability is listed in the Blue Book it should automatically meet the requirements for eligibility to receive disability benefits. Typically, it is still necessary to provide adequate evidence that supports the claim for disability benefits.
There are different types of brain cancer, but the advanced form is listed in the Blue Book in Section 13.13.
The features listed for this type of cancer include the following:
- the brain cancer has already spread;
- the brain cancer returned after the victim had been treatment.
Many types of brain cancer are not necessarily that aggressive and these do not meet the requirements in the Blue Book list. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these victims do not qualify for disability benefits as in some cases they might do but the process of applying is far more complicated.
The first thing the SSA will do is undertake a “residual functional capacity” or “RFC” analysis. This process evaluates how the cancer is affecting your ability to go to work.
The SSA reviews the following
- the symptoms you have to deal with due to the cancer;
- the medical treatment you are receiving for the cancer;
- what your limitations are on a daily basis due to the cancer.
If your RFC analysis shows you cannot work in any job due to your medical condition, then the SSA will find you disabled and therefore medically eligible for benefits. Whether you meet the Blue Book listing or must qualify through an RFC analysis, the SSA needs to see thorough medical records supporting your claim, including:
- the brain cancer diagnosis including the type and stage of the cancer;
- the progression of the cancer;
- the cancer’s symptoms and how it affects you;
- the precise location of the cancer;
- what treatments have been used and their results;
- prediction for future outcomes;
- imaging scans indicating the location of tumor(s);
- hospital admission records;
- surgical and laboratory reports;
- facts about how the symptoms affect the ability for you to engage in everyday activities.
Completing the Initial Application for Disability Benefits for Brain Cancer
When you think you have all the required documents you can start your disability benefits application. This can be done by completing the online application. You should take your time when completing the application form because if you make any mistakes this could lead to a delayed decision or even a denial.
The more details you provide the better as this will minimize the delay in making a decision about your application. You will then be asked to attend an interview. At this interview you will need to bring all your medical records. If you don’t have them this could delay your application while the SSA accesses them on your behalf.
You will need to provide all your personal and family details as well including names, dates of birth of your spouse and any minor children if applicable. The dates of marriages and divorces, if applicable, need to be provided as well.
You will be asked to provide your bank details so if your claim is successful the payments will be deposited in your bank account. At this stage you will be joining the waiting game as many months could pass before you receive a decision.
Getting Help with Your Claim
Advanced brain cancer cases that meet the Blue Book listing are rarely denied, but less aggressive cancers and cancer in its early stages can result in denial of benefits. Working with a Social Security advocate or disability attorney in applying can make the process of applying simpler for you. It can also potentially increase your chances of approval.
If your application for SSD is denied, you may wish to consider working with an advocate or attorney in appealing the SSA’s decision. Someone that understands the ins and outs of the disability application and appeals processes can help you build a stronger claim and can assist you in preparing for an appeal hearing as well.
Speak to a Qualified Attorney
There is nothing better than having someone knowledgeable like a qualified disability benefit attorney by your side when applying for disability benefits. It can be a time consuming process and you don’t really want to put up worth any unnecessary delays unless you really have to.
This is where an experienced and qualified disability attorney can use their acquired knowledge about how the SSA reaches decision for disability benefit applications. One of the key requirements to a successful disability claim is providing all the details about the disability and evidence to back up it up.
It has to be both complete and accurate to get you anywhere near winning a successful disability claim. The keen eye for detail that a disability attorney has will ensure you have the best chance of your claim being successful.
If your initial application is still denied and you and your attorney think you have a high chance of success at the reconsideration stage your attorney will put in his/her best effort to heighten your chance of winning at this stage.
Fortunately, the SSA does allow you to go even further, even if you are denied at the reconsideration stage and this is through an ALJ Hearing, followed by the Appeals Council, and finally the Federal Court.
An attorney can be working on your behalf through all the appeal stages to help you until you get the disability benefits you need to help you bear the obstacles created by your brain cancer.
You won’t need to pay any upfront fees and you only pay once your SSDI has been won and there is a cap of $6,000 on legal fees or 25 percent of your back pay. So it is a win-win situation if you decide to hire a disability lawyer to help you through the disability benefit’s application process.