If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and you are unable to work because of it, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal disability insurance benefit for those who have paid into the Social Security system. It is available to people with disabilities that prevent them from working. If you have cancer, you may be able to have your SSDI application processed more quickly. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can speed up their review of disability applications for people who have a diagnosis that’s on their “compassionate allowances” list.
Find Out If You Qualify for SSDI
Not everyone with breast cancer qualifies for SSDI. Your income or financial needs do not affect whether you can get SSDI.
You will need to meet the following criteria:
- You have worked for enough years and had enough money taken out of your paychecks to go toward FICA taxes.
- If you are self-employed, you have paid self-employment taxes.
- You meet Social Security’s strict definition of disability to qualify for SSDI.
Social Security’s definition of disability is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of physical or mental impairment. These impairments must be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or be expected to result in death.
If you get turned down for SSDI, you can reapply and appeal if necessary. Many times, people get their cases approved after an appeal. The SSA will base the amount you get from SSDI on how long you worked and how much you paid into the system over the years.
Breast Cancer as an Impairment
The SSA will not classify all cases of breast cancer as a disability. When women with breast cancer are denied benefits, it's usually because they were unable to provide the medical information to back up their claim.
The SSA has a medical guide known as the Blue Book, and it lists the conditions that qualify as disabilities. Representatives will consult this guide, along with medical history, to help make a determination as to whether or not applicants are eligible.
To file a claim for SSDI for breast cancer, you will need to provide a complete medical history that includes:
- Progress reports and verification of cancer from your oncologist, including spread, stage, and grade of the cancer
- Mammogram and/or ultrasound results
- Imaging results, including x-ray, bone scan, CT scan, MRI, or PET scan
- Records of procedures or surgeries related to your breast cancer
- Lymph node biopsy results
- Pathology reports
- Results of any blood work
All of this documentation will be used to make a decision on whether or not your illness is deemed serious enough to qualify for benefits.
Obtaining approval for benefits may take a while and the process can be complicated. If your condition worsens while waiting for a decision, you should contact the SSA office immediately.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer to Assist With Your Social Security Claim?
When you are unable to work because you have breast cancer, Social Security disability benefits can help provide financial support to you and your family. It’s crucial to get a lawyer involved sooner rather than later because the majority of initial claims are denied. When dealing with a condition such as breast cancer, time can be of the essence. Working with a lawyer who understands the complexities surrounding SSDI law is often the best way to avoid denial. If you are denied, an attorney can work with you on filing an appeal.
There is only one lawyer who officially specializes in North Carolina Social Security disability in Dunn, NC. Put your trust in Social Security disability attorney Vance Jennings, who has completed a specialty certification with the North Carolina State Bar. Call Brent Adams & Associates at (919) 781-7590 to schedule a consultation.