Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Breast Cancer

Article contributed by Ram Meyyappan, from Social Security Disability Help 

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed every year. Some of the women who suffer from this condition are unable to work due to the symptoms of the condition itself or the symptoms associated with the treatments that are used to address the condition. Being unable to work can cause finances to quickly spiral out of control. Without a means of income, there is no way to pay the bills. Fortunately, if your condition is expected to keep you out of work for at least a year, Social Security Disability benefits can help alleviate some of the financial strain.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Breast Cancer

The good news is that there is a listing for breast cancer in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a publication that the SSA refers to when deciding whether or not to approve a claim for disability benefits. If you have a condition that is listed in the Blue Book, it can be easier to qualify for benefits than if you do not.

Breast cancer is listed in Section 13.10 of the SSA’s Blue Book. According to this listing, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to breast cancer, you must be able to prove that:

  • You have a locally advanced tumor of any size with direct extension to the chest wall or skin or metastases to the internal mammary nodes; or
  • That you have a tumor with metastases to ten or more axillary nodes; or
  • That you have recurrent breast cancer (except for local recurrence that remits with therapy).

If you can get documented medical evidence proving that your case of breast cancer meets the above criteria, you will be able to prove that you qualify for benefits under this Blue Book listing.

If your condition does not meet the criteria listed above, you will need to try to qualify for benefits based on a vocational allowance. This can be more complicated and may require the help of a Social Security Disability attorney.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits you will be asked to fill out an application form and provide a form that documents your daily activities and how your condition affects them and a copy of your medical records. This information can either be submitted online or at your local SSA office.

When filing you application, you will have to decide whether you want to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSDI benefits are for individuals who have a strong work history and have paid into the Social Security system consistently. SSI, on the other hand, is a needs-based program that does not take your work history into account.

Unfortunately, over 65% of disability applications are initially denied. Those that are denied have to go through an appeal process in order to be approved. The best chance you have of being approved for benefits is at the 2nd stage of the appeals process, the disability hearing. Approximately 55-60% of claimants are awarded benefits at the hearing stage.

If your claim is denied, you should consider hiring a disability attorney or advocate to help you with your claim. There is no upfront cost to hiring an attorney. These attorneys are only paid if you are successfully awarded benefits.

Unemployment Benefits vs. Social Security Disability Benefits

An individual cannot qualify for both unemployment and disability benefits at the same time. In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, one must be medically capable of working and actively looking for work. In order to qualify for disability benefits, one must be medically unable to work for at least year or longer. Since the requirements for each program are contradictory to one another, one cannot receive both benefits at the same time.

For more information on breast cancer and disability benefits, please visit:  www.disability-benefits-help.org