You are here

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) and Social Security Disability

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) – Condition and Symptoms

Sometimes called chronic granulocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a form of white cancer that affects the development of white blood cells. When a person has CML, the bone marrow produces too many myeloid type white blood cells. These blood cells are fully formed, but are abnormal.

As the bone marrow continues to produce the faulty cells, and they are released into the blood stream, they begin to affect the immune system. They can also have a negative effect on body organs such as the spleen, liver and kidneys.

Survivability rates are high (approaching 90%) for those with chronic myelogenous leukemia, in large part due to the development of targeted therapies such as nilotinib, imatinib, and dadsatinib. These have become the main method of treatment. Targeted therapies are essentially medications that hinder the growth of cancer cells.

There are often no obvious symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia, making it somewhat difficult to diagnose. When symptoms do occur, they include pain in the left side due to an enlarged spleen, joint pain, hip pain, constant low grade fevers, susceptibility to infections, bruising, and a general sense of malaise.

The disease is often first detected due to a complete blood count test. The diagnosis is then generally confirmed with a biopsy of the bone marrow. When the disease is caught in the early stages, it is highly treatable. Unfortunately, once the disease has passed through the chronic and accelerated phases into the blast phase, the condition is generally terminal.

Applying for Disability with a Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Diagnosis

If you are in the blast phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia, you qualify for a compassionate allowance. Compassionate allowances are set aside for claimants with the most obviously debilitating conditions, most of which are terminal (as is the case with blast phase CML). Because you qualify for a compassionate allowance, your claim will be handled faster than other claims. Everyone whose chronic myelogenous leukemia has progressed to this phase qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.

Those with chronic myelogenous leukemia in the chronic or accelerated phases can still qualify for disability benefits, though the process is a bit longer. If your leukemia is in the accelerated phase, you will be entitled to benefits for a minimum of two years from the time that your condition was diagnosed or one year from the time of your transplantation, if you’ve had one.

If you are in the chronic phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia, you will qualify for SSDI or SSI if you meet either of the following criteria:

  • Your condition is progressive despite antineoplastic therapy.
  • You have had a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

If you’ve had transplantation, you can expect to receive disability benefits for a year, after which you will be reevaluated to determine whether you have need of ongoing benefits or have recovered sufficiently to be able to start working again.

If you don’t quite meet any of the criteria for the listings with your chronic myelogenous leukemia alone, you can still qualify for disability benefits if you can show that all of your disabling conditions combined are equal to one or more of the listings in the Blue Book. This tends to take longer, as it requires the SSA adjudicators to make a judgment call. Many of these types of claims will need to be won on appeal after they are initially denied.

When you apply for disability with chronic myelogenous leukemia, you will want to make sure that the medical documentation includes the results of the complete blood count, the results of the bone marrow biopsy, and any medical imaging tests that were used to diagnose your condition.

Your Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Disability Case

Some people choose to forego representation by a disability lawyer and handle their disability claims on their own. In most instances, this proves to be a mistake. All too often, claimants who qualify for disability benefits are denied those benefits because they didn’t fill all of the necessary forms out completely or correctly, or because some of the medical documentation was either missing or stated in such a way that didn’t show the true nature of the claimant’s disabling condition.

Whether you are just getting ready to contact the SSA for the first time or are embroiled in the appeals process, a disability lawyer can help reduce the stress of the claims process while at the same time improving your chances of being approved for benefits. Social Security Disability lawyers are happy to review your case with you, and the initial consultation is free.

Social Security Disability attorneys do not collect fee from clients unless the client collects disability benefits. Even then, all payments are made out of the back pay that is due to you, meaning that you get to keep all of your disability benefits.