Disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a safety net when severe illness or impairment prevents long-term employment. Only more advanced cases of kidney cancer automatically qualify for benefits, although in some cases, you may be eligible even if your cancer is caught early and responds to treatment.
Will Your Illness Prevent Employment?
Renal cancer is typically quite aggressive and requires equally aggressive treatment measures, including surgical removal of the kidney, lymph nodes, and other surrounding tissues. This procedure may be one of several necessary surgeries, and recovery from even the least invasive procedure can make returning to a physically challenging job in the near future impossible.
Surgery is often only the first step though, and the harsh, residual effects of radiation, chemotherapy, and newer biological anti-cancer regimens take their toll physically and mentally. You may be unable to concentrate, complete tasks, or remain awake and alert for extended periods.
All of these are essential for even the most sedentary jobs. The combined effects of required treatment may therefore leave you unable to work and earn a gainful living, in which case you could be found eligible for disability.
Do You have the Appropriate Medical Evidence?
The SSA will review your medical records against information that appears in its kidney cancer disability listing (13.21). If you meet the listing, you automatically qualify, but this means your kidney cancer must have spread, come back after treatment, or be inoperable.
If your kidney cancer and treatments have left you with severe impairments that stop you from working, then benefits may sometimes still be available, even without meeting the disability listing.
To approve any benefit application, the SSA must be able to review evidence of the disability, including what they deem acceptable records from an appropriate medical source. These include the standard tests used in finding, identifying, and determining the grade and stage of kidney cancer, and they usually want these records to come from an oncologist or other specialist.
You’ll want to make sure your records contain typical diagnostic tests, like urinalysis results, showing the presence of blood or cancer cells. Imaging scans, like MRIs, CTs, or ultrasounds, can document the presence of tumors.
Biopsy results, surgical notes, and physical exam reports from your doctor’s office visits are crucial pieces of evidence to prove the diagnosis too, but these can also help the SSA understand how severely your cancer and cancer treatments have impaired your everyday abilities, including your ability to perform essential job duties.
Gathering Facts and Preparing to Apply
A disability application requires a lot of information on your medical, education, and employment history, as well as your current financial situation. The contact details for doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers are necessary and can be obtained from old medical bills or insurance claims.
Your most recent tax return and old paystubs and bank statements can satisfy the financial inquiry portions of the application process.
In addition to gathering the necessary records, you’ll want to speak with your doctor about your intention to apply. He or she will play an important role by providing the SSA access to medical history information and by filling out any other forms or questionnaires the SSA requires.
But keep in mind that just because your doctor may think that you’re disabled, that doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be approved for disability benefits.
Why You Should Contact An Attorney
Contacting a disability advocate or attorney may be on your agenda too, especially if you may not automatically qualify under the kidney cancer listing. A disability lawyer can advise you throughout the application process and can represent you during appeals, if you must fight for benefits after initially being denied.
Don’t be afraid to speak to a lawyer and then apply. Even if you don’t have a strong work history or have any other concern about your claim, you may still have a chance. Consider talking to an attorney today to find out more.