It surprises many of our clients to find out that breast cancer isn’t automatically considered a disabling condition.
We’re not saying that breast cancer isn’t serious: it surely is. There are many different varieties of breast cancer, and they all present a broad range of danger to a patient’s long-term survival. But the U.S. Social Security Administration has its own standards for what counts as a disabling condition for two important government benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). According to those standards, having breast cancer isn’t routinely considered a disability.
About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among American women (current statistics exclude non-melanoma skin cancers, which are rarely fatal). Society’s emphasis on cancer screening and breast self-exams has meant a steady improvement in breast cancer survival rates. Today, over 90 percent of all women whose breast cancers are discovered early will live for at least five more years.
It’s also possible for men to develop breast cancer, although the incidence rate is less than one percent of that of women. However, male breast cancer is much more often fatal because it’s rarely diagnosed before the cancer has spread elsewhere in the patient’s body.
Social Security Disability Insurance is structured to provide income for people who have a strong work history but now find themselves unable to hold down a job because of disability. Cancer is a common reason why people apply for SSDI benefits in Pennsylvania, but breast cancer cases do not always qualify for a monthly benefit payment. Although the cancer itself and the treatment regimen—typically surgery, followed by periods of radiation treatment or chemotherapy—can be very debilitating, the SSDI program will only award benefits if the patient is expected to be disabled for a year or longer. Most treatment schedules do not last that long.
The Compassionate Allowances program will speed up consideration for SSDI benefits for some applicants who have advanced breast cancer. When a patient’s cancer cannot be completely removed through surgery, or when it has spread to distant parts of the body, her application for SSDI or SSI benefits will automatically be moved forward for a faster decision under the Compassionate Allowances rules. If the Social Security office receives supporting medical records in a timely manner, the patient can probably count on a quick decision in her favor.
Proving You Qualify for SSDI Benefits for Breast Cancer
If you are under treatment for breast cancer and you believe you are too disabled to work, there are other options for you to get the benefits you need even if your condition doesn’t qualify for Compassionate Allowances consideration:
- Breast cancer cases with moderate to severe complications may qualify under Social Security’s “Blue Book” 13.10, which sets forth a list of impairments that amount to a disability.
- You can submit evidence about your physical limitations due to the cancer and treatment to show your “residual functional capacity” is too limited to work productively.
The Harrisburg disability attorneys at Schmidt Kramer have helped thousands of central Pennsylvania residents secure the SSDI benefits they need after a diagnosis of cancer. We can help to prepare your initial application, help to make sure you have the supporting evidence from your health care providers, or help to appeal an early decision against your case.
Remember that two out of every three SSDI applications submitted without help from a legal advisor end up in rejection. Don’t take a chance of applying without someone double-checking your work. Learn from the experience of our neighbors in Dauphin County, Perry County, Schuylkill County, and surrounding towns by calling Schmidt Kramer today at (717) 888-8888 for a FREE case review.