According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting United States women with more than 2 million current survivors living today. But getting a breast cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. In fact, many women are diagnosed, receive treatment, and successfully return to work.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer and your condition is so severe that you will not be able to work for at least 12 continuous months, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI benefits are not, however, offered for short-term conditions or to women who are able to continue to work and perform substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Recently on our disability forum a woman asked, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was not able to work for 15 months. Recently, however, I have returned to work. Can I still get SSDI benefits or at least some type of benefits for the time I missed work?
Breast Cancer am I disabled?
In November of 2009, the SSA added metastatic breast cancer to their SSA Listing of Impairments. This listing documents the common conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling. Although not all breast cancer qualifies for SSDI benefits, if you can prove you have the following symptoms you may qualify.
Breast cancer which has spread to lymph nodes above or below the collar bone to 10 or more underarm lymph nodes, or with metastases to other parts of the body.
Recurrent breast cancer that is not localized and has not responded to treatment.
Locally advanced breast cancer, including tumors of any size that extend directly to the chest wall or skin, tumors which have metastasized to the internal mammary lymph nodes, or inflammatory breast cancer.
So lets go back to the question. Assuming this user had breast cancer which was severe and which had one or more of the symptoms outlined above, she may qualify for SSDI benefits. To support her claim of disability she will need to provide the following information to the SSA: copies of her lab test, treatment records, medical information from her oncologist, and pathology reports.
Closed period benefits what are they?
Treatment for breast cancer has dramatically improved over the last 20 years. With this in mind, there are many women who have breast cancer and who may be disabled for a period of time but find they are later able to return to work.
If this was the case for this woman she may be able to qualify for what the SSA calls closed period benefits. Although she would not be able to receive ongoing SSDI benefits if she has returned to full time work, she may be able to receive benefits from the date she was unable to work to the date she was able to return to work- called the closed period of disability.
How do I get my closed period benefits?
Applicants who qualify for closed period benefits must file their SSDI application within 14 months from the date their disability ended (extensions may be allowed for some applicants). For more information about the application process contact the SSA or visit their website at www.ssa.gov.
The good news is the SSA is much more likely to award benefits for a closed benefit period because it is much less costly and there is no on-going expense for the SSA. Closed benefit applicants may also contact an SSA lawyer if they have questions.
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