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Esophageal Cancer and Social Security Disability

This year alone, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is expected to receive more than three million applications for Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, approximately 70 percent of applicants have historically been denied disability at the initial stage. Should these applicants wish to receive benefits in the future will then have to go through the lengthy and stressful disability appeal process – a process that can take more than two years to complete.

In 2008 the SSA took measures to address severely disabling conditions by implementing the Social Security Compassionate Allowances initiative. This program enables certain individuals to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits without undergoing the standard disability claim process. Instead of having to wait months or even years for an approval of Social Security Disability benefits, these applicants may be approved for benefits in less than a month.

Esophageal cancer is one of the 88 conditions that qualify for expedited disability claim processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines. If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and you are wondering how the condition affects your eligibility for Social Security Disability payments, the following information can help shed light on the disability claim process and how the Compassionate Allowances guidelines may affect your claim.

Esophageal Cancer Conditions and Symptoms

The esophagus is the muscular tube in the body that moves food to the stomach from the mouth. When a malignant tumor develops in the tissues lining the esophagus, it is referred to as esophageal cancer. There are two types of esophageal cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. In cases of squamous cell carcinoma esophageal cancer, the cancer begins in the flat cells that line the esophagus. In cases of adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer, the cancer begins in the cells that create and release the mucus and other fluids found in the esophagus. Most cases of esophageal cancer are of the squamous cell variety.

Esophageal cancer is a very serious condition. In 2010 alone, more than 16,640 new cases of esophageal cancer were reported in the United States and 14,500 deaths occurred due to the condition. Most cases of esophageal cancer that are diagnosed in the U.S. occur in the lower portion of the esophagus and this particular type of cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men who are more than fifty years of age.

The causes of esophageal cancer can be hard to pinpoint, although certain factors do increase an individual's risk of developing the condition. Barrett's esophagus (caused by GERD) is a condition that can increase an individual's risk of developing esophageal cancer. Alcohol consumption, obesity, poor nutrition and smoking are all also risk factors that increase a person's chances of developing esophageal cancer.

The symptoms of esophageal cancer vary from patient to patient, but common symptoms of the condition include a backwards movement of food through the esophagus, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, vomiting of blood and unexplained weight loss. If a case of esophageal cancer is suspected, a doctor will conduct a variety of tests to diagnose the condition. Test that may be performed include barium swallows, biopsy, chest MRIs, thoracic CTs, PET scans and endoscopic ultrasounds.

The treatment of esophageal cancer will vary depending on how far the cancer has spread. If the cancer is only present in the esophagus, surgery may be able to remove the cancer from the patient. Chemotherapy and radiation may also be provided to assist in the treatment of this condition. In many cases of esophageal cancer, the cancer is not able to be removed. In these cases, treatment will focus on alleviating the symptoms of the cancer and making the patient as comfortable as possible.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a serious and debilitating condition and the treatments involved can also have a negative impact on an individual's quality of life. Due to the severity of the condition, esophageal cancer has been listed as one of the 88 conditions that qualify for claim processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances initiative.

When filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits based on a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, you will need to provide as much medical evidence as possible to the Social Security Administration. Lab results, treatment records, and written statements from your treating physicians will all assist in the processing of your Social Security Disability claim.

Your Esophageal Cancer Social Security Disability Case

Even though esophageal cancer is one of the 88 conditions that qualify under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines, you must still provide the Social Security Administration with sufficient medical evidence to support your disability claim and ensure that all necessary documentation is supplied properly to ensure a quick and hassle-free approval of your disability benefits. While it is not common for applications based on a Compassionate Allowances listing to be denied by the Social Security Administration, it does happen on occasion. Because of this, you should consider retaining the services of a disability advocate or attorney when submitting a Social Security Disability claim based on a diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

When working with an advocate or attorney, the professional assisting you in your claim will help you gather the necessary medical evidence to support your application for disability benefits. He or she will also help you present your application in the best light possible, ensuring that the adjudicator who is reviewing your file understands the severity of your condition and how it qualifies for processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

To learn more about the Social Security Compassionate Allowance listings or to find out whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to a case of esophageal cancer, fill out a request form for a free evaluation of your disability case today.