A severe impairment or illness, lasting at least 12 months, is required for disability approval by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma doesn’t always meet this requirement, since remission is common and sometimes even after a single round of anti-cancer therapy.
When non-Hodgkin’s comes back or when multiple rounds of treatment are necessary within 12-months however, you can automatically qualify for benefits. Some people also experience long-term or permanent residual effects of treatment, and can potentially get disability due to the impairments produced.
When Illness Stops You from Working
Even if highly responsive to treatment, non-Hodgkin’s will undoubtedly put you out of work for weeks or months. Symptoms like fatigue, concentration issues, nausea, and shortness of breath may make consistently reporting to work impossible, whether you work in an office, on the production floor, or in another setting. Anti-cancer therapies compound these issues, so working while undergoing treatment isn’t an option for most people.
Many are able to return to the job not long after completing treatment and achieving remission though. If this is the case for you, then you may not qualify for benefits. If you experience residual impairments from your cancer or treatments, then disability may be available after a more detailed review by the SSA.
What Records are Required and do You have Them?
Disability applications must be backed up with the right medical records before approval can happen, even in cases of aggressive, adult non-Hodgkin’s. If you’re unable to qualify automatically for benefits by meeting the SSA’s disability listing for the disease (13. 05A), then detailed medical documentation of impairments becomes even more crucial.
Key pieces of evidence that must be part of your medical history include blood chemistry and bone marrow biopsy results as well as imaging scans like MRIs, PETs, or CTs, showing the presence of any tumors. These records must ideally come from an oncologist or other medical specialist, although the SSA will consider documentation of your condition that is obtained from any physician.
Preparing to Apply for Social Security
Gathering your medical records and discussing your plans to apply for benefits with your doctor are important preparation steps. You’ll want to gather other documents too, especially ones from which you can glean details necessary for filling out your disability forms accurately.
These include things like current bank statements, old pay stubs, and your most recent income tax records. Old job descriptions, contact details for your former employers and all of your healthcare providers will be essential too.
In addition to pulling together records and other information, you may also wish to consult an attorney or disability advocate before starting your claim. An attorney can assist with completing the application, act as an intermediary whenever necessary, and can reduce the chances that you’ll be denied benefits. If an appeal is required after a denial, an attorney that’s been with you from the start is even better prepared to represent your interests during the appeals process and can greatly increase your chances of winning benefits.