The lawyers of Hardison & Cochran realize the struggles that individuals and families in North Carolina face after a diagnosis of cancer. In addition to undergoing intensive and costly treatment, a cancer patient may be unable to work and earn income.
If you are in this situation, the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits program may offer relief. Depending on the type of cancer or the stage of the disease, you may qualify for monthly benefits. You may also be eligible to have a decision on your benefits claim expedited.
Consider the following:
Qualifying for SSD Benefits with Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it may not automatically qualify you for SSD benefits.
First, you need to meet your work credit requirements. In other words, you need to have been paying into the Social Security Disability system for a certain number of years before your cancer arose.
Second, the type of cancer you are suffering from must be found in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book.” This is a list of impairments that are treated as disabilities as a matter of law, and it describes the evidence need to establish that you have the impairment. If your cancer is not listed, you may be able to demonstrate that it is equal in severity to a listed cancer type.
The North Carolina Disability Determination Services (DDS) team that will review your claim will consider many factors when deciding whether your cancer classifies as a disability, including:
- Origin of the malignancy
- Extent of involvement (or spread of the disease)
- Duration, frequency and response to therapy (surgery, irradiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or bone marrow or stem cell transplantation)
- Post-therapy effects on you (physical and mental complications).
The DDS will seek medical evidence that may include:
- Diagnosis of the cancer, including the type, extent and site of the primary, recurrent or spreading cancer cells (tumors)
- Operative notes
- Pathology reports
- Test results
- Summary of hospitalizations or medical reports
If your cancer is not listed in the Blue Book, or if you cannot show that it is equal to one listed in the Blue Book, then you will likely need to show that your condition keeps you from being able to do your job or any other job.
The DDS examiners reviewing your case may ultimately wait to make a decision on your claim until the results of your therapy can be evaluated.
If your cancer goes into remission, or if your condition allows you to return to work, you may lose your eligibility for SSD benefits.
Cancer Patients May Qualify for an Expedited Decision
The SSA estimates that it takes 3-5 months to process a disability benefits application.
However, if you are suffering from cancer, it may qualify you for the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. This program expedites the processing of claims involving medical conditions that are so severe that they obviously will be deemed a disability.
This could be highly important for you and your family. Instead of waiting months to find out whether you qualify for benefits, you could get an answer within only a few weeks.
The following cancers may qualify you for the CAL initiative:
- Acute leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and mantle cell lymphoma
- Esophageal cancer
- Ewing Sarcoma
- Gallbladder cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer (small cell)
- Pleural (lung) or peritoneal (abdomen) mesothelioma
- Sinonasal cancer
- Thyroid cancer
If the following cancers are inoperable, spread, recur or are unresectable (tumor can’t be removed), they may also qualify for the CAL program:
- Adrenal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Bone cancer
- Head and neck cancers
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer (non small-cell)
- Small and large intestine cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Melanoma (malignant)
- Nerve cancer.
Our North Carolina Lawyers Help Individuals Seek SSD Benefits for Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and cannot work, you should not delay seeking Social Security Disability benefits.
If you need help with your application or your claim was denied, contact Hardison & Cochran right away. We can review your case for free and go to work seeking the benefits you deserve. We also will do whatever we can to have your claim expedited.
For More Information
• Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases – Adult,
Social Security Administration
• Compassionate Allowances, Social Security Administration