Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Social Security Disability

The average disability applicant waits three to four months to complete the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. Unfortunately, for most applicants, this is only the beginning of the battle. The Social Security Administration denies approximately 70 percent of the disability claims received each year. These applicants must then endure the lengthy and complicated appeals process if they hope to receive Social Security Disability benefits at some point in the future. Unfortunately, this process can take some applicants more than two years to complete.

Some of the individuals who are suffering from very severe disabilities are unable to wait months for their disability benefits to be approved. Fortunately, the SSA has recognized this fact. In 2008 the SSA rolled out the Compassionate Allowances program, which allows some disability applicants to be approved for benefits in a matter of weeks instead of having to wait months or even years before benefits can begin. There are 88 conditions that qualify a claim for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines. Inflammatory breast cancer is one of these conditions.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, the following information will help you understand the disability claim process and will shed light on how your condition may qualify you for faster Social Security Disability approval under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) - Conditions and Symptoms

Inflammatory breast cancer, also known as IBC, is a very serious but very rare type of breast cancer that develops very quickly. The condition is caused by a blockage of the breast's lymphatic vessels due to a growth of cancer cells. When an individual develops the condition, the affected breast becomes tender, swollen and red as a result of this blockage.

Most cases of inflammatory breast cancer are locally advanced cases. This means the cancer has spread from the original point of origin to the nearby tissue. In some cases, the cancer will metastasize through the lymph nodes to distant parts of the body. When this happens, it becomes even more difficult to successfully treat the condition.

The exact symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer vary from individual to individual. Unlike most types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer is not associated with a lump in the breast. Instead, symptoms usually include a change of the breast's appearance that can occur in just days or weeks, a notable enlargement of the breast, discoloration of the breast, unusual warmth to the affected area, dimpling or ridges on the skin of the breast, itching, pain, tenderness, enlarged lymph nodes under the arm and a flattening or inversion of the nipple of the breast.

If your doctor suspects that you have developed inflammatory breast cancer, he or she will provide you with a physical exam and will conduct a variety of tests including mammograms, breast ultrasounds and a biopsy of the tissue of the breast. If inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed, treatment will likely involve chemotherapy followed by surgery and radiation therapy. In some cases hormone therapy may also be helpful. The five-year survival rate for patients who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer is about forty percent.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

Receiving a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer can be devastating. Many patients who develop the condition are unable to work due to symptoms caused by the disease and the effects of necessary treatments. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has recognized this fact and has included inflammatory breast cancer among the 88 conditions that qualify for disability claim processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

When filing a Social Security Disability claim based on a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, you will need to provide as much medical evidence as possible when submitting your disability application. The SSA will need to see lab results, treatment records and written statements from your treating physicians. All of these documents will help support your case for Social Security Disability benefits.

Your Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Social Security Disability Case

Even though inflammatory breast cancer is one of the 88 conditions that qualify an application for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines, that does not guarantee an approval of your Social Security Disability benefits. It does not happen often, but in some cases the SSA has denied disability claims even when that claim is based on a diagnosis that qualifies under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines. This is usually due to a lack of sufficient medical evidence, a poorly prepared disability claim or the failure of the adjudicator reviewing the file to recognize the claim as one that qualifies for Compassionate Allowances processing. Because of this, you should consider hiring a disability advocate or attorney when filing a claim for disability benefits based on a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer.

When you hire an advocate or attorney to represent you in your disability claim, the professional you work with will help you gather the necessary medical records to support your claim and will ensure that your application is presented in the best light possible to the SSA. This will increase your chances of receiving a quick approval of your Social Security Disability benefits and will ensure that the adjudicator reviewing your file understand how your claim qualifies for processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines. 

Additional Resources 

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!