If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer you may be wondering if you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Although a cancer diagnosis can be very scary, a cancer diagnosis does not necessarily mean you are disabled and unable to work.
Types of Breast Cancer
The first step to determine whether you will qualify for SSDI benefits is to get proper medical care. The SSA will expect that you have received a proper diagnosis through imaging, mammograms, and biopsies. Specifically, the SSA will want to know if you have infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which is an invasive saturation of cancerous cells in the breast tissue, or ductal carcinoma in situ, which are non-invasive cells that may be malignant and are confined to the lactiferous ducts.
The Social Security Administration will also want medical evidence of whether the cancer is confined within the breast and whether it has spread to other organs or the lymph nodes and the size of the tumor and whether it is invasive or non-invasive.
Furthermore, the SSA will need information about the stage of your cancer and your treatment options. If you are undergoing any type of breast cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, lumpectomy, and mastectomy it is important to have information about how this treatment is affecting your ability to perform work. For instance, how many appointments do you have each week and how long does it take for you to recover after treatment? Focus on providing information about why your treatments do not allow you to perform your job or work 40 hours per week.
Winning Disability Benefits for Breast Cancer
To prove you are disabled and to win SSDI benefits for breast cancer you will need to do one of the following: prove your condition meets a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments, prove you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity, or qualify with a condition which is listed on the Compassionate Allowance listing.
To qualify under a Compassionate Allowance Listing you will need evidence to prove your breast cancer has distant metastases, it is inoperable or unresectable, and it is not able to be completely removed.
To qualify under a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments you will have to meet the condition and symptoms outlined under the breast cancer listing (Listing 13.10, Breast Cancer). It will not be enough that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. You will also need to have symptoms which are as severe as the listed symptoms. For instance, the SSA will expect you to have recurrent carcinoma, inflammatory carcinoma, distant metastases, metastaes to ten or more axillary nodes, or a tumor with direct extension to the chest wall or skin.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether or not your breast cancer meets the listing under the SSA Listing of Impairments.
Winning benefits under a Medical Vocational Allowance
Finally, if your condition does not meet a listing or is not on the Compassionate Allowance listing it does not mean you will not win SSDI benefits. It does, however, mean it will take a bit more work, and it is likely you will be denied the first time you apply for SSDI benefits.
Under a medical vocational allowance you will need to prove you do not have the functional capacity to work. More specifically, the physical and/or mental requirements of your job are too great for you to complete, given the severity of your condition. As mentioned above, you can prove you cannot work by providing evidence that your treatment causes too much pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, mood swings, or memory loss to safely complete your job.