Your lung cancer may have left you feeling totally helpless. It may have even eliminated your ability to work. If this sounds familiar, please know that there’s still hope to add some stability to your life; you can do that by applying for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.
Every case is different, but if your case of lung cancer is so severe that it has left you unable to work, you may have the opportunity to qualify for financial benefits to keep you afloat.
Lung Cancer Blue Book Listing
In order to determine who qualifies for SSD benefits, the Social Security Administration uses the Blue Book to evaluate cases. The Blue Book is a list of conditions that allow a person to get monthly benefits. Pay attention to the contents of the Blue Book, because they will be the guiding principles for your case.
The Blue Book is split up into 14 sections that cover a type of condition. Section 13.00 is the one that covers cancer, and Section 13.14 has the information on lung cancer. Since it’s explicitly mentioned in the Blue Book, you could be in a good position to qualify.
There are some parameters that decide whether your lung cancer will help you get benefits. If you have any of the following conditions, you could be eligible for benefits according to the Blue Book:
Inoperable, untreatable, or metastic non-small-cell cancer that appears on the hilar nodes of your lungs or beyond
The appearance of oat cell carcinoma, which is a very aggressive type of cancer
A superior sulcus tumor (i.e., one that appears approximately towards the top of your lungs) that hasn’t gone away with anticancer treatment. If this is your situation, you’re eligible for benefits for at least 18 months after your diagnosis.
These conditions won’t necessarily be obvious to you, which is why it’s so important to maintain close contact with your doctor. Your doctor will be in the best position to determine whether your lung cancer is severe enough to qualify for benefits.
Contact your physician and a Social Security disability attorney if you suspect that you fit any of those conditions. Your physician will be able to provide you documentation for your SSD application, and an SSD attorney can help you navigate the process. Even if you have one of the conditions listed above, applying can be a hurdle if you choose to do it alone.
Be sure to apply for benefits, but keep in mind that it can take 3 to 5 months to get a hearing scheduled. Even then, your hearing could be at least six months from that point.
Fortunately, you can apply for a compassionate allowance, which means that you’ll be eligible for expedited benefits payments. Compassionate allowance payments are for particularly severe conditions that require more immediate compensation due to the condition’s severity and aggressiveness. There are 88 conditions listed as part of the Compassionate Allowance Initiative, and lung cancer can qualify for a compassionate allowance.
Two of the relevant conditions are:
Small cell lung cancer
Non-small-cell lung cancer that is inoperable, recurrent, and/or aggressive
You’ll notice that there’s quite a bit of overlap between the Compassionate Allowance listing and the Blue Book listing. This suggests that if you’re attempting to qualify for SSD benefits, you have a good chance of qualifying under the Compassionate Allowance Initiative.
How an Attorney Can Help
Lung cancer can sap you of your strength. It’s an aggressive illness that will require all of your energy to fight. Choosing to spearhead something as complicated as a Social Security disability while managing a condition like lung cancer can make your life extremely difficult--and needlessly so.
Instead of attempting to apply on your own, talk to a Social Security disability attorney. That attorney will be able to help you with the complex application process and argue on your behalf when the time comes. More importantly, that attorney will only get compensation if you win, so you won’t have to pay upfront. You have enough to worry about; let someone else worry about your application so that you can focus on your health.