Social Security Disability for Acute Leukemia
If you have been diagnosed with acute leukemia and the condition has rendered you unable to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which pays monthly benefits to disabled workers who have worked enough to earn sufficient credits and have paid enough taxes to the SSA.
In order to receive benefits, you must be permanently disabled and your condition has to render you disabled for longer than a year. The first six months you are disabled, you are not eligible to receive benefits.
The disability determination process can be lengthy, and requires extensive documentation to prove your case. You need to include detailed medical records, test results, physician notes, and evidence about how your condition has changed your ability to function.
Acute leukemia is a serious medical condition. It is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that impacts the white blood cells. Leukemia is treated with drugs and chemotherapy, as well as other technologically advanced treatment options.
It is a condition that can go into remission and relapse, so it requires constant monitoring and direct medical attention. The disease can progress rapidly and create immature blood cells instead of the mature ones that are needed to help an individual overcome his or her condition and thrive.
The Cost of Treating Acute Leukemia
There are different kinds of acute leukemia, and the costs of treatment and prognosis of the condition vary from kind to kind. General acute myeloid leukemia is a more aggressive variation of the disease, so it is expensive to treat. Several courses of chemotherapy may be necessary to get your condition into complete remission. After the induction treatment, consolidation treatment of high-dose chemotherapy or a stem-cell transplant may be needed for those younger than 60.
Reuters Health said treating acute leukemia varies from $187,315 to more than $327,000. The high costs are attributed to hospitalizations, which may last days or even weeks at a time. People of all ages can be diagnosed with acute leukemia, and the treatment options vary, including chemotherapy, transplants, and medications. Of course those who undergo stem cell transplants will pay out a significantly higher amount for treatment.
The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications
The SSA has strict guidelines that determine whether or not an individual is considered disabled and eligible for SSDI benefits. It is a step-by-step process that revolves around a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, and five questions that determine the severity of the medical conditions. In order to fully and accurately assess your situation you need to provide as many medical records and as much documentation as possible regarding your condition and how your life has been impacted.
The Blue Book has a list of all the major body systems and each system has a list of medical conditions and criteria that must be met in order to receive automatic disability approval. The SSA guidelines for disability are much more stringent and precise than the guidelines for being disabled elsewhere.
The SSA considers disability as your “complete inability to work”. There is a listing that acute leukemia is classified under in the book.
Section 13.01 covers neoplastic diseases and the malignant listing will qualify more easily. This particular listing evaluates certain neoplasms that are malignant. Several factors are considered in regards to this listing, such as the malignancy’s origin, the extent of the involvement, the duration of the illness, the frequency and response to therapies as well as the effects of any post-therapeutic residuals.
A diagnosis of acute leukemia includes the blast phase or accelerated phase of chromic granulocytic leukemia, which is based on the examination of bone marrow. There are other diagnostic approaches and information that can be based on chromosomal analysis, surface marker studies on any abnormal cells, or other methods that are in consistency with current medical technologies.
Meeting the Criteria for Disability with a Medical-Vocational Allowance
If you have been diagnosed with acute leukemia, but you don’t meet the criteria set forth under the Blue Book listing, you may still qualify for disability benefits using a medical-vocational allowance. This approach involves using a residual functioning capacity (RFC). This form clearly states your limitations and how your condition, its symptoms, your treatments, and any side effects of medication and treatments impact your ability to function.
Your physician will complete a RFC and list any limitations, such as if you need to reposition yourself every hour or you are unable to stand more than two consecutive hours. It will indicate if you are unable to bend, lift, reach, or grasp.
It may also say you can’t carry more than 10 pounds a couple of times a day and you cannot take your load more than 50 feet. This will give disability determination staff a clear picture of your limitations and how your life is impacted by your condition and treatments.
Your age, educational level, past work experience, and transferrable skills are also considered. As an example, if you are 40 years old and have a master’s degree, they may determine you can do some other kind of light duty work, such as sedentary duty.
But, if you have severe symptoms and chemotherapy is causing horrible side effects, you may not even be able to perform light duty work. Proving your case with enough evidence is the key.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case
You will need to provide detailed doctor’s notes along with your medical records. Also any tests you have had done and their results need to be included to back up your claim. Any scans, blood tests, and therapy records need to be included.
Any recurrence of the disease should be documented by bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid examination, or peripheral blood tests with initial and follow-up reports all included. Malignant neoplastic diseases treated by stem cell transplants or bone marrow transplants have special evaluations.
If a patient undergoes a transplant, he or she is considered disabled for at least 12 months from the date of the transplant. After that time frame has elapsed, the disability is re-evaluated considering the graft versus host disease, immunosuppressant therapy, deterioration of other organs, and frequent infections. The entire long-term picture is considered during the disability determination process. It can be a lengthy process, so provide as much documentation as possible early on in an effort to expedite the claim.