Applying For Disability Benefits When You Have Cancer

Submitted by Eric on

If you have cancer, you may be unable to work and earn a living. Cancers of any kind or stage can be disabling. Even if your cancer is caught early on and is treatable, the treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation can be disabling and cause a variety of side effects that affect your ability to perform daily activities or work and earn a living.

The American Cancer Society reports that there are more than 200 kinds of cancer. There are more than 1.7 million new diagnosis every year. These cancers vary from the easily treated and non-invasive kind to those that are aggressive, spread quickly, and require aggressive treatments.

To qualify for disability benefits with cancer, you will need to prove that your condition is disabling and that you will be unable to work for at least a year.

Meeting The Medical Criteria

The Social Security Administration (SSA) use a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a claimant is disabled and qualifies for disability benefits. Cancer listings are found under Section 13.00 of the Blue Book.

The different listings in the cancer section are separated by where the cancer originates or develops, and each kind of cancer has different criteria that must be met.

To be approved for disability benefits with breast cancer, the cancer must have spread to distant regions of the breast or to other parts of the body. However, to be approved with esophageal cancer you will automatically be approved for disability benefits just so long as you can provide documentation that confirms your diagnosis.

The SSA has a Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program, which includes some aggressive cancers. You will qualify through CAL if your cancer is inoperable or is recurrent despite treatment or has spread beyond its original origin.

Applying For Disability Benefits When You Have Cancer

Using A Medical-Vocational Allowance

If you cannot qualify using a Blue Book listing, you may qualify using a medical-vocational allowance. This approach involves considering your medical conditions, your age, your educational background, your work history, your skills, your restrictions, and your limitations. This approach requires that a residual functional capacity (RFC) be completed.

The RFC will indicate what you can and cannot do and clearly lay out all your restrictions and limitations. As an example, it will say if you are unable to walk farther than 1,000 feet, or if you cannot lift more than 5 pounds, or if you are unable to reach, bend, or squat. It will help the SSA determine if you are able to work, or if you qualify for disability benefits.

Consult With A Disability Attorney

If you are unable to work because of cancer, you should consult with a Social Security Disability lawyer. Most disability claims are denied, but claimants who are represented by a lawyer are much more likely to have their claim approved. To get your disability claim on track, get a free case evaluation today by completing the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page.

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Blog comments

Faye Self (not verified)

I have anal cancer don't

I have anal cancer don't know if I'm in remission or not. Have already been though radiation and chemotherapy. Apply for SSDI back in May of last year called SSDI last week and the person I talked with said that I have an award.i would be notified in 2 weeks.not sure what award means. Please reply back thank you.

Mon, 01/20/2020 - 17:12 Permalink

In reply to by Faye Self (not verified)

Hi Faye,

Hi Faye,

If they said you have an award, then it may be that you were awarded benefits. If you were, you should receive a letter in the mail soon explaining if you were approved. Best of luck!

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 16:27 Permalink

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