Social Security Disability Benefits for Those Diagnosed with Acute Leukemia

If you have been diagnosed with acute leukemia and it is impacting your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to those who are totally permanently disabled and to his or her certain dependents. The disabled individual needs to have worked long enough to earn an adequate amount of credits and to have paid in the specified amount of taxes to Social Security.

To qualify for benefits, you have to be permanently disabled. The first six months you are unable to work, you are not eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. During the disability application process, the Social Security Administration gets a significant amount of information about you, including your medical records, to determine if you are eligible for disability benefits according to the Social Security Administration’s definition for being disabled.

Financial Costs Related to Acute Leukemia

There are different kinds of leukemia, but basing the figures on general acute myeloid leukemia, which is an aggressive disease that requires intensive treatment, the costs are very high. The treatment plan usually involves several courses of induction chemotherapy that induces complete remission. The induction treatment is then followed by consolidation treatment that consists of high-dose chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation for those who are younger than 60.

According to Reuters Health, the average cost for treatment ranges from $187,315 to $327,194. Hospital stays add to the expense, making the overall costs so high. Acute leukemia can affect people of all ages, and treatment options can vary from chemotherapy to transplants. Of course, transplantation adds significantly to the cost and will make the overall cost much higher than it is for an individual who does not undergo a transplant.

The Evaluation Conducted by the Social Security Administration and the Medical Qualifications

There are strict guidelines followed by the Social Security Administration in order to determine if an individual is disabled or not and whether he or she qualifies for disability benefits. The process is step-by-step and revolves around five questions.

The determination process involves accessing your medical records in order to determine your actual medical diagnosis, how it affects your life and your medical prognosis. Social Security has a Blue Book, which is a list of all the major body systems. For each of those systems, there is a list of medical conditions that are considered so severe they are worthy of automatic disability approval.

The definition of disability under Social Security guidelines varies from the definition of disability elsewhere. Only total disability is warranted benefits through Social Security. Short-term disability or partial disability is not considered. According to the Social Security Administration, disability is “your complete inability to work”.

Disability Determination Services will investigate to ensure that you cannot do the work that you did previously. They will also check to see if you can adjust to other kinds of work. Other things to consider is whether your disability has lasted a year or longer or if it is expected to last longer than a year and/or result in death.

The Blue Book has specifications on how acute leukemia, which is classified as a neoplastic disease under section 13.01, malignant listing will qualify most easily. It states that the listing evaluates certain malignant neoplasms, except certain neoplasms that are associated with HIV infection.

When acute leukemia is evaluated, several factors are considered, including origin of the malignancy, extent of involvement and duration, frequency and response to therapy as well as any effects of post-therapeutic residuals. The initial acute leukemia diagnosis includes the accelerated or blast phase of chromic granulocytic leukemia, which is based upon the definitive examination of bone marrow examination. Other diagnostic information is based on the chromosomal analysis, surface marker studies on abnormal cells or other methods that are consistent with the most prevalent state of medical knowledge.

Any recurrent disease has to have been documented by bone marrow, peripheral blood or cerebrospinal fluid examination with all initial and follow-up pathology reports included. There are special evaluation procedures for malignant neoplastic diseases treated by stem cell transplantation or bone marrow transplantation.

In this case, if the patient undergoes transplantation, he or she will be considered disabled until at least 12 months from the transplant date. After the time period has elapsed the disability is reevaluated considering graft-versus-host disease, immunosuppressant therapy or frequent infections and significant deterioration of other organ systems.

When considering a person’s inability to work other things are considered, including the individual’s work history and whether he or she can continue to do that past job, or if the person has any transferable skills that can be used in a different line of employment. Also, educational background is considered as those with higher levels of education are more likely to have skills that will transfer into other jobs.

Qualifying for Disability Using an RFC if the Blue Book Listing Doesn’t Meet the Needs

If your medical condition does not meet the guidelines set out in the Blue Book, you can still meet the requirements for Social Security Disability with an RFC. The residual functioning capacity, better known as the RFC, is a form completed by your doctor to clearly define your functioning and capabilities.

An RFC is very thorough and definitive, clearly stating if you could perform your past work, your limitations in regards to sitting, standing, bending and lifting and how your activities are impacted by your illness. The document also includes a list of any medications that you currently take along with your treatment plan.

As an example, it will state if you have undergone chemotherapy or if more sessions are planned. It will also indicate if a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant has occurred or if it is likely to happen. Having the detailed form completed by a physician significantly increases the chances of being awarded Social Security Disability benefits, as it indicates how your illness has impacted your functioning.

Applying Specific Medical Tests

Social Security must be given access to your medical records early on during the application process. However, it is common for the Disability Determination Services to order an examination from a different doctor. This examination, which is not for medical treatment but for verification purposes, is paid for by the Social Security Administration.

Sometimes this step of the determination process involves a mental evaluation to determine if your medical condition is affecting your mental state, such as causing anxiety or depression, which may also impact your ability to function as well. Oftentimes, your mental state can add to your inability to work or function normally.

While the Social Security Administration would not pay for expensive tests, they will pay for basic tests such as X-rays or blood work to help confirm what stage your illness is in and how it impacts your ability to work and function. With a diagnosis of acute leukemia, the odds of being approved early on in the evaluation process are much greater with proper documentation than early approval is for many other disorders and diseases.

How a Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help

Although people with acute leukemia may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, it is still a good idea to work with a Social Security disability lawyer. You need to focus on your health, not on filling out endless paperwork. A disability attorney will know what you need and how to present your claim effectively so your claim is more likely to be approved when submitted, saving you time and hassle with the often-drawn out appeals process.

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