Many benign tumor disorders cause serious symptoms, like chronic pain and fatigue. Dependent upon where tumors develop, your medical condition may cause neurological, respiratory, or other systemic complications as well. Lasting impairments from surgical or other treatment may affect your ability to work too.
With a tumor disorder or complications from treatment, you may qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) only grants benefits for long-term disability though, which means your tumors must have put you off work for a year or must be expected to prevent you from working for at least that long.
Benign Tumor Disorders and Disability Benefits
Most people who qualify for benefits are approved under a disability listing in the SSA’s Blue Book, which outlines the severity level requirements for specific medical conditions. Although only benign brain tumors are covered by a dedicated listing in this manual, there are other listings under which you may qualify with tumors or a tumor disorder.
Benign tumors are typically defined by cell type and include adenomas, fibromas, hemangiomas, and lipomas, among others. The SSA may review your tumors under the listing for the body system or organ that is most severely affected:
- Adenomas commonly develop in the thyroid, liver, adrenal glands, or colon.
- Fibromas are often found in the uterus, bladder, skin, or connective tissues.
- Hemangiomas may develop anywhere, but often affect the head or neck and may compromise hearing, vision, or speech.
- Lipomas are comprised of fat cells and can affect any organ or body system.
You may be granted benefits under a listing even if you only closely match the details rather than meeting the requirements exactly. Work closely with your doctor to understand the SSA’s medical eligibility requirements and whether you’re likely to meet or match a listed condition.
It’s also important to note that benign tumors can often cause similar symptoms and require the same types of debilitating treatments as cancer. For this reason, you may qualify for disability by closely matching a cancer listing, even with a benign tumor or tumor disorder.
Medical Documentation and Applying for Benefits
When you apply for benefits, you give the SSA permission to access your medical records. To approve your disability claim, they must see that your tumor, treatments, or side effects and complications cause you such severe impairments that you’re unable to work. Records that help establish this include:
- pathology reports that describe tumor type
- records describing the size, location, and other characteristics of your tumor(s)
- surgical notes and records of other treatments required
- clinical descriptions from your doctor of the symptoms and complications you deal with
You can apply for disability online, at the local office, or sometimes over the phone, by calling 1-800-772-1213. Many applicants find the online application most convenient, but applying locally means you’ll have an SSA representative’s assistance. Either way, submitting your application may be only the first step in the review process, and you should be prepared to wait for a decision from the SSA and to file an appeal, if you’re initially denied benefits.