Vulvar Cancer and Disability Benefits: What You Need to Know
Vulvar cancer occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. It typically appears as an itchy sore or lump in older women, although it can appear at any age. The two most common types of vulvar cancer are:
- Vulvar squamous cell carcinoma: Appears in the cells that line the surface of the vulva
- Vulvar melanoma: Starts in the pigment-producing cells of the vulvar skin.
Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer can include:
- Constant itching
- Wart-like bumps, an open sore, or a lump
Once it reaches an advanced stage, vulvar cancer can leave you so debilitated that you can’t work. To take the pressure off of you and your family financially, you should immediately apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits that can cover your living expenses while you undergo cancer therapy.
Medically Qualifying with Vulvar Cancer
Vulvar cancer is specifically referenced in the Blue Book, which is a catalog of disabling conditions and the criteria for eligibility. Under Listing 13.23: Cancer--Cancers of the female genital tract, the SSA will consider you disabled if you have been diagnosed with vulvar cancer and the following conditions apply:
- The cancer is invading adjoining organs.
- Metastases has extended to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.
- The cancer keeps returning after initial anticancer therapy
When you apply for disability benefits, your doctor must submit medical documentation that provides the following information:
- A positive diagnosis for cancer
- The extent of its involvement
- CT scans
- Frequency, duration, and response to anti-cancer treatments
- Any post-treatment residual effects
- Pathology report of biopsy of surgical specimen
- Operative notes
- Cell histology showing small-cell cancer of the female genital tract
You will also need your doctor to help you complete and submit a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. In order to be awarded disability benefits, you need to prove that you can’t perform substantial work activities. This criteria is key to SSA approval.
Vulvar cancer can potentially qualify you for expedited consideration under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. It is included in the category for small-cell cancer of the female genital tract. If your particular cancer has spread past a certain point or is inoperable/unresectable, you are eligible for the program.
Should your vulvar cancer symptoms fail to meet a Blue Book listing, the SSA may still consider you eligible for disability benefits under a medical vocational allowance system, especially if your condition leaves you unable to work.
Getting Help with Your Vulvar Cancer Claim
The majority of applications for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied. A denial, however, does not mean that you are not entitled to benefits. Working with a Social Security disability attorney throughout the application and any appeals process will provide you with the resources and guidance needed to recover the benefits you deserve. Your chances of approval will increase while the risk of being denied based on technicalities will be substantially reduced.