The average wait time for an initial application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to be reviewed is three to four months. In some areas, it can take significantly longer. To complicate matters further for those in need of disability benefits as soon as possible, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about 70 percent of the initial claims reviewed each year.
When an application is initially denied, a second review is required. If the application is denied a second time, which is not uncommon, an appeal must be filed. The full process, from initial application to appeal hearing, can take a year or longer, with some applicants waiting as much as two years for a final determination on their eligibility for benefits.
As severely disabling conditions and terminal illnesses mean applicants don’t have years or even months to wait for SSD benefits, the SSA developed an alternative and expedited review and approval process for certain medical conditions. The program which governs claims containing one of these “pre-approved” diagnoses is the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program.
Currently, there are 113 conditions on the CAL list. Fifty-two additional conditions have been approved and will be added to the CAL list on August 13, 2012, including Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of Metastatic Spinal Nerve Root Cancer or have had Spinal Nerve Root Cancer in the past and have recently found out it’s come back again, the information that follows may help you understand how the SSA reviews disability claims for the specific condition. It will also provide you some guidelines for seeing a quick and smooth approval of disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer – Condition and Symptoms
As the name implies, Spinal Nerve Root Cancer is a form of malignant tumor which originates in the nerve root of the spinal cord. The primary symptom of Spinal Nerve Root Cancer is usually non-mechanical back pain, particularly in the lower or middle back. Pain may also worsen over time and may spread to the arms, legs, hips and feet. Pain does not respond to the normal treatments for mechanical back pain like heat, pain killers or message.
Dependent upon the placement and size of the tumor and the number of blood vessels and other structures involved, Spinal Nerve Root Cancer can cause other symptoms as well, including muscle weakness in the chest, arms and legs; difficulty walking or maintaining balance; loss of bladder or bowel control; and paralysis, among others.
A variety of tests will be necessary to diagnose and to monitor Spinal Nerve Root Cancer. X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans and other bones scans may all be required. Biopsies will also need to be performed on tumors for a definitive diagnosis, especially as some spinal tumors can be benign and others can be metastatic cancer which actually originated in another area of the body.
Tumors in the spine can sometimes be removed, but more often, due to their placement or the degree of primary and peripheral nerve involvement, surgical removal of the entire tumor is not possible. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both usually employed to treat Spinal Nerve Root Cancer.
In cases where cancer recurs or spreads too extensively to respond to treatment, there is often little that can be done. For individuals with Metastatic Spinal Nerve Root Cancer, treatment is often supportive or palliative in nature, with the goals of alleviating pain and preventing neurological and other symptoms from worsening.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer
While Spinal Nerve Root Cancer which has metastasized or recurred has been approved as a Compassionate Allowance for disability benefits by the SSA, you must still complete the entire application process. A diagnosis alone is not enough to be found eligible for benefits.
Thorough medical records must be presented in any SSD benefits application, even when the claim is filed for a condition which falls under the CAL program. Your application should contain all available medical records, including all examination notes, test details and lab results. There should also be statements from all of the physicians who have treated the condition, including those who initially treated you as well as those who have seen you since the cancer has come back or spread.
Your Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer Social Security Disability Case
Although Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer is now among the conditions with expedited review procedures under the Compassionate Allowances program of the SSA, filing a claim with the diagnosis doesn’t guarantee approval for disability benefits. You must still substantiate the disability by having a well documented case file and application. A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in putting together your application and getting the appropriate documentation for satisfying SSA requirements.
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 Metastatic or Recurrent Spinal Nerve Root Cancer, request a free case evaluation today.