The day you find out for sure that the diagnosis is cancer is completely devastating.
Sure, you have been feeling unwell for some time. You’ve lost your appetite, and your stamina is a fraction of what it used to be. Perhaps you even had a sense that something was seriously wrong with your body. But cancer? You dread even thinking the word.
It may take a few days, but eventually your mind will return to more pragmatic, day-to-day concerns: How much longer will I be able to work? How can I afford to live?
We can help with answers to some of these questions. Some people can carry on at their jobs with only minimal adjustment after a cancer diagnosis. More—perhaps most—people with cancer find that the disease eventually becomes extremely debilitating, sapping their physical resources and ability to concentration. And we should not forget that the treatments available for cancer are some of the most extreme measures known to medical science; many cancer patients find that treatment sessions are more disabling than the disease itself.
If you find yourself unable to work in Pennsylvania after a diagnosis of cancer, you may be eligible to receive benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. However, securing SSDI benefits for cancer can be a tricky proposition.
Cancer and Disability: Understanding the SSDI Rules
Doctors use the term “cancer” to refer to a disease in which there is uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells may invade other nearby tissues or even spread to distant parts of the body. The body’s typical immune system response to abnormal cells fails to recognize and dispose of cancer cells. As cancers grow, they prevent key organs or body systems from functioning—resulting in death.
Cancers are generally identified by the body system where they first appear. No organ is free from cancer risk. Doctors identify the following as the most common cancers:
- Blood cancers, such as leukemias, lymphomas, Hodgkin’s disease, and myelodysplastic syndromes
- Breast cancer
- Digestive system cancers, including colon cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric (stomach) cancer, liver cancer, and pancreatic cancer
- Lung cancers and malignant mesothelioma
- Genitourinary and genealogical cancers, including cervical cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, renal (kidney) cancer, testicular cancer, uterine sarcoma, and vaginal cancer
- Neurological cancers, including brain tumors, neuroblastomas, and pituitary tumors
- Skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and melanoma
The Social Security Administration handles applications from people who are disabled by cancer and need to apply for SSDI benefits. Because SSDI is an insurance program, it is available only to people who have paid into the system in advance by withholding from their paychecks. To qualify, the applicant must be able to show an extensive and recent work history and demonstrate that his illness—or treatment for his illness—makes him unable to work productively.
There is a special fast-track program, called Compassionate Allowances, which permits patients with cancer to receive quicker handling of their SSDI claims.
Unfortunately, even though many cancer patients may qualify as disabled under SSDI rules, they may be too weakened by their illness to complete the volumes of paperwork that an application requires. Most first-time applications are rejected.
Get Help Here
The Pennsylvania cancer disability lawyers of Schmidt Kramer have worked with thousands of disabled people in Harrisburg, Carlisle, York, Lancaster, and other nearby communities to secure the SSDI income they need. We are thoroughly familiar with the paperwork and the application process. If you (or your close friend) need SSDI benefits for cancer or another disabling condition, call our law firm at 717-888-8888 locally or (717) 888-8888 toll-free. We will set up a free, confidential review of your case and answer all your questions.