Can Tumors Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

Submitted by Deanna on

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.

Blog comments

BluebirdBroke (not verified)

The website says that

The website says that a medical decision was made and they are processing the decision. What does that mean? It my reconsideration appeal.

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 22:35 Permalink
Miriam (not verified)

I suffer with depression

I suffer with depression generalized anxiety and huge lipomas tumors totally disfiguring, and affecting certain parts of my body. Have had surgery on my back, and shoulder. I am not able to lift my right arm anymore. I have been rejected 2xs and appealed and rejected again. I cannot work. I need more surgeries, constant back pain due to the lipomas, affects my breathing. What can I do.

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 20:42 Permalink
Dennis (not verified)

I have survived cancer twice

I have survived cancer twice back in 89 to 94 and was on SSDI for 3 of those years, however the amounts of chemo i got has left me with neuropathy in the hands and feet with poor equillibrium, and a benign tumor on my hip called a bone island, i powered my back to my job, which is Asphalt paving for close to 40 years now, im almost 58 have had some vascular problems, and was out of work for 4 months just returned to work, and burnt my feet 2nd degree from the neuropathy, but i will power back once again.

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 14:15 Permalink

In reply to by Dennis (not verified)

Hi Dennis,

Hi Dennis,
Thanks for sharing your story! You may want to look into applying for disability benefits based on your conditions, you may be eligible for benefits. It may be a good idea to contact a disability advocate or attorney regarding this, they can help you through the process if needed. You can get in touch with one by filling out this form:

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:06 Permalink

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