Benign Brain Tumors and Social Security Disability

A tumor is a buildup of tissue caused by abnormal cells. These can be cancerous or noncancerous. Noncancerous tumors are called benign and can still pose significant health risks, particularly in the brain, where they can crowd the cranial cavity. People of all ages are at risk for brain tumors, though they occur more in older adults.

Benign tumors are usually slower to grow and can be harder to detect. These tumors can lead to headaches that are unaffected by standard pain medication. As a benign brain tumor progresses, there is increased risk of seizures, changes in behavior and personality.

Signs of a benign brain tumor can include vision problems, memory problems, numbness or weakness in parts of the body, and speech or sensory issues. None of these signs are unique to brain tumors and rarely does having only one of the symptoms mean you have a brain tumor. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult for doctors to quickly diagnose a brain tumor. If a combination of these symptoms persists over time, you may want to consult a doctor about the possibility of a brain tumor.

Benign brain tumors are diagnosed first using basic screening and neurological exams. You may then be recommended for imaging procedures, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to get a closer look at the brain. If the scans or X-rays detect a tumor, your doctor may request a biopsy, which will determine whether or not the tumor is cancerous.

In either case, the first step would be to surgically remove the tumor. If this is not possible, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used to manage and perhaps destroy the tumor.

Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits with a Benign Brain Tumor

You will find benign brain tumors listed in section 11.05 of the SSA’s Blue Book. This listing is unique in that it does not explain the symptoms that applicants will need to demonstrate in order to qualify. Instead, it states that applicants with benign brain tumors will be evaluated based on listings associated with their particular symptoms. Appropriate listings may include:

  • 11.02 Convulsive Epilepsy
  • 11.03 Non-convulsive Epilepsy or
  • 11.04 Central Nervous System Vascular Accident (Stroke).

The SSA recognizes that although you may not have these particular conditions, brain tumors often cause similar symptoms and side effects.

If you have not experienced seizures or stroke-like symptoms as a result of your benign brain tumor, you may potentially qualify under a separate listing. For instance, mood and personality changes may be evaluated under Section 12.00 Mental Disorders. Speech and vision issues would both be found in section 2.00 Special Senses and Speech.

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to meet the listing for your condition, match a listing in severity, or qualify for a medical vocational allowance. If you are unable to meet or equal any of the listings associated with benign brain tumors, you may be able to qualify by demonstrating how much the tumor has impaired your ability to work.

If you are left with significantly less functional ability as a result of the tumor and cannot perform your job, you may qualify under a medical vocational allowance. This means that the Social Security Administration will evaluate your age, functional abilities, mental abilities, and job training to determine whether or not you can do any type of work. This may be your best bet if a tumor has affected functioning or strength in limbs or other parts of your body.

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Benign brain tumors are recognized by the Social Security Administration as a disabling condition, but their broad range of rather symptoms could make your case difficult to prove. However, if a benign brain tumor keeps you from working, you may have a case for receiving Social Security Disability benefits. During the disability application, you will be asked to supply a detailed list of documentation and meet very strict criteria. This can be confusing or challenging depending on your health.

If you find that you are overwhelmed or confused by the application process, a Social Security Disability lawyer can help you prepare for and submit your disability claim. These attorneys are experts in the process and can significantly increase your chances of approval. By using an attorney, you are less likely to make mistakes that could potentially jeopardize the outcome of your claim.

To receive a free legal evaluation with an attorney or advocate, fill out the form on this page.

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