For anyone suffering from a disability, the process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be frustrating, especially for those with very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses. The national average wait for the initial SSD application to be reviewed is between three and four months.
Additionally, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Determination Services (DDS) denies about 70 percent of applications during the first review. Anyone denied benefits may need to go through a second review and potentially an appeal hearing before receiving a final decision on their eligibility. In all, this process can take several months to more than two years, in some cases.
Because those who suffer from very severe or terminal disabilities can’t wait months or even years for a decision, the SSA began its Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008. CAL essentially allows DDS workers to expedite the review and approval of claims for conditions which are clearly severely disabling and meet the SSA’s guidelines.
At the present time, there are 113 CAL conditions on the SSA’s list. Fifty-two additional conditions where recently approved, including Malignant Melanoma with Metastases. The newly approved disabilities will become formally a part of the CAL program as of August 13, 2012.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma with Metastases, the following information will help you understand the SSA’s disability claims review process for this specific condition. It will also give you some guidelines for increasing your chances of being quickly approved for disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Malignant Melanoma with Metastases – Condition and Symptoms
Malignant Melanoma is usually thought of as skin cancer; however, it can originate in any area of the body in which melanocytes are present. Melanocytes are pigment cells present in the skin but are also found in other regions of the body, including the bowels and eyes. While the Malignant Melanoma in its early stages can qualify for disability benefits, the form of the condition which was recently approved by the SSA for inclusion in the CAL program is that in which the cancer has spread or metastasized to other areas of the body: Malignant Melanoma with Metastases.
The most common form of Malignant Melanoma is skin cancer and all forms result from mutations in the melanocytes. While less common than other types of skin cancer, it is more aggressive and dangerous, especially when not diagnosed and dealt with early. The disease accounts for three quarters of the terminal cases of skin cancer in the world and more than 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide each year. The degree of UV ray (sun) exposure, natural skin tone, family history and other factors all play a role in the development of the disease.
Early diagnosis is critical due to the aggressive nature of Malignant Melanoma. If diagnosed early and skin lesions are completely removed, prognosis is good. When it has the chance to spread, treatment for the disease is much more involved and the outlook can vary from case to case. Treatment of Malignant Melanoma with metastases includes chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy.
Early signs of the condition include changes in skin color and texture. In more advanced cases itching, burning, rupture and bleeding of skin lesions may also occur. Metastatic melanoma can cause a number of other symptoms, including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, among others. The most common locations for Malignant Melanoma to spread are the brain, liver, bones, lymph nodes and abdomen, though any region of the body is at risk.
Biopsies of skin lesions are the usual method of diagnosing skin cancer. Blood tests and other labs can be used to determine elevated immune response to the presence of cancer cells in other areas of the body. Metastatic tumors can be found through CT scans, MRIs, PET scans and other tests.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Malignant Melanoma with Metastases
You must have extensive medical records in any claim for SSD. This is true even when your disability falls under the CAL program. In other words, even a diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma with Metastases does not guarantee you’ll be approved for benefits, and may not prevent the need for additional reviews or appeals.
To reduce the chance you’ll be denied during the first review, you must provide adequate documentation related to the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. This includes all your medical records, lab and other test results, and statements from treating physicians. The more detail you incorporate in your application, the less likely the SSA is to delay your approval or to request further information.
Your Malignant Melanoma with Metastases Social Security Disability Case
While Malignant Melanoma with Metastases is now considered a Compassionate Allowances by the SSA, the diagnosis alone is not enough to be found eligible for SSD. You will still need to include substantial medical documentation in your application in order to receive benefits. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you through the application and review processes if necessary as well.
To learn more about the Social Security Compassionate Allowance listings or to discover whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma with Metastases, fill out the form for a free case evaluation.