Tips on Applying for Disability Benefits with Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is when a brain tumor, made up of an abnormal mass of cells, grows within the brain or on the central spinal canal. The severity of brain cancer can depend on the size and location of the tumor and if it spreads to other parts of the body.

The requirements are set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first of these is that disability caused by the brain cancer must have lasted or expected to last at least 12 months. The next most important feature is the listing in the Blue Book which is the responsibility of the SSA. The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability.

As long as the disability is listed in the Blue Book it should automatically meet the requirements for eligibility to receive disability benefits. Typically, it is still necessary to provide adequate evidence that supports the claim for disability benefits. Most claims for disability benefits are denied initially.

Medical Evidence

If you have brain cancer, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically approve your disability benefits if you meet certain criteria, including:

  • A highly “malignant”, or cancerous tumor of the brain or spinal cord
  • Brain cancer that returns or gets worse after treatment

To determine that you are eligible, the SSA will look at any notes from your doctor or clinic, radiology reports, and lab results. You may also want to provide a written statement from your doctor that details your brain cancer diagnosis.

One of the most common types of brain cancer, Glioblastoma multiforme, is included under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program, which approves disability benefits within weeks instead of months or years. If you qualify for this program, the necessary information about your type of brain cancer should be included on all relevant medical forms.

Non-Medical Evidence

If you do not meet the medical requirements for automatic disability approval, you can still receive benefits for your brain cancer with a medical-vocational allowance. Under these circumstances, the SSA can determine that you are unable to return to work, or even work a less demanding job, based on factors such as your age, education, and work experience.

The SSA will also assess your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), which is your ability to work with your condition. Brain cancer, as well as side effects from its treatment, can cause severe nausea, fatigue, a compromised immune system, and limited mental abilities that may prevent you from being able to work.

In completing your RFC, the SSA will take your medical records into consideration. The SSA will be more likely to consider the opinion of a specialized doctor, so it is best to have the oncologist treating your cancer prepare the RFC.

Your doctor may write a statement to include with your RFC, or prepare an RFC on your behalf. This can include information on your ability to perform certain tasks such as standing, walking, and how well you can focus and follow directions, as well as how much work you would miss and rest you would need on a regular basis.

Speak to a Qualified Attorney

This is where an experienced and qualified disability attorney can use their acquired knowledge about how the SSA reaches decision for disability benefit applications. One of the key requirements to a successful disability claim is providing all the details about the disability and evidence to back up it up.

Additional Resources

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