Probably the most important thing to consider with cancer and Social Security disability process is that there is no one catch all when it comes determining your application. Social Security Administration(SSA) and its determination of disability can depend on the type and/or the stage of the cancer.
For cancers that are terminal or at advanced stage, SSA allows some fast tracking of applications for a special grouping of conditions. The list that is better known as compassionate allowance conditions and there are currently 21 types of cancer listed. The types range from acute leukemia to small cell lung cancer. If your condition is one of the listed, SSA has the discretion to bypass its usual long analysis and determine disability automatically. In some cases, the list will specify whether it fast tracks in cases where the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage: “distant metastases, or inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent.”
If the cancer does not qualify under the compassionate allowance list, DON”T DESPAIR. It does not mean that you are not disabled. It just means that the SSA will continue on with the analysis and conduct a more thorough evaluation of your medical records and how it affects your ability to work.
At this point, your medical documentation from your doctors will become even more important. SSA will consider all factors affecting your ability to work. They will not only evaluate how severe your cancer is, but also the side effects you experience from your treatments like chemotherapy or radiation. Hence, your relationship with your doctor is key. Your social security attorney will be relying most heavily on the statements of your treating physician to demonstrate that your condition prevents you from returning to your past job or any job that exists in national economy. Hence, your doctor’s good record keeping could be the difference between winning your claim from the onset and continuing with the time consuming appeal process.
For more detailed information related to your condition, you should consult a social security disability attorney who has more in depth knowledge of the criteria for individual conditions.
Once again, if your condition does not meet one of the listings, it does not mean that you cannot be awarded disability benefits. SSA continues on with the analysis, evaluating your limitations and evaluating whether you retain any functional capacity to perform work. In the case of cancer, it may be that the effects of treatment that reduces a person’s ability to perform a job, hence leading to a determination of permanent disability under the SSA regulations.
Your social security attorney can be a valuable resource to help navigate the rules and evidentiary requirements of your cancer.