Over 300,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Many will undergo invasive treatments that will affect them not only physically and emotionally but also financially. Studies show that the cost of treatments can be extensive and they can leave patients so physically weakened they cannot work.
Have you been diagnosed with breast cancer? Are the treatments affecting your ability to work? You could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability to help with your financial struggles.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer worldwide. It is the second leading cause of death of women in the U.S.
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow rapidly and form a lump (tumor) that can spread (metastasize) to surrounding tissues or other parts of the body. Breast cancer typically affects women but can be found in men.
Breast cancer is diagnosed by physical examination, mammography x-ray, MRI imaging, and biopsy of affected tissues. Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- swelling of the breast
- changes in the shape of the breast
- inversion of nipple
- irritated and raw skin on the breast
- feeling a lump in the breast
- uncommon discharge from the nipple
There are several types and stages of breast cancer. Treatment depends upon the type and stage of cancer at diagnosis. Treatments for breast cancer can include:
- surgery to remove the cancerous lump
- surgery to remove the breast
- radiation therapy
- hormone therapy
- combination of treatments
The treatments can weaken a patient and interfere with their daily living activities and ability to work.
SSDI and Breast Cancer
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a 5 step process to determine a claimant’s eligibility for disability benefits. Those seeking disability benefits for breast cancer will go through the following process:
- Determine if the claimant is working at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as defined by the SSA in the year they file. The SGA level for 2018 is a monthly income of $1180.
- Determine if the claimant’s complications from breast cancer significantly limits their ability to perform basic work activities such as:
- pulling or pushing
- lifting or carrying
- simple cognitive reasoning
- Determine if the claimant’s type and stage of breast cancer meet the criteria outlined in the SSA’s impairments list.
The impairment listing for breast cancer says a claimant must have medical proof of one or more of the following:
- Advanced inflammatory carcinoma that has spread to the chest, internal mammary glands, or skin
- A carcinoma that has spread to the collarbone, shoulder, underarm or other parts of the body.
- Carcinoma that reoccurs after anticancer treatments
- Small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma
- Carcinoma in which the treatment of caused secondary lymphedema damaging an upper body extremity and requiring surgery to repair
- Determine if the claimant can still do any work they may have done in the past despite the weakness is caused by their breast cancer.
- Determine if the claimant can do any other type of work based on their:
- prior work experience
- mental and physical capabilities
Breast Cancer and the SSDI Compassionate Allowance List
For severe disabilities and diseases which may require a greater need for immediate relief, the SSA has developed the Compassionate Allowances List (CAL). Those who meet the CAL requirements can have their claim expedited.
Breast cancer could qualify for CAL if:
- the breast cancer has reached stage IV
- the breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body
- the breast cancer has been deemed inoperable or unresectable
- the breast cancer continues to recur despite treatment
Getting Help with Your Breast Cancer Disability Claim
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and it is affecting your ability to work, you could be eligible for SSDI benefits. But, the approval process approval can be complicated. The SSA requires detailed evidence of your difficulties from breast cancer before considering approval for disability benefits.
Getting help from a qualified disability attorney has shown to improve the possibility of receiving SSDI benefits. An experienced attorney can help you gather the evidence you need and present it to the SSA.
Contact us today for a free evaluation of your medical situation. Let one of our experienced social security disability lawyers fight to get you the benefits you need.