If you received a diagnosis of cancer, you might qualify for disability benefits granted by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA requires every applicant to complete and submit an application to determine whether there is enough evidence to approve a disability claim.
Although providing the SSA with accurate information on the application is important, you also have to attach copies of the medical documents that support your claim that cancer has created a disability that makes it difficult, if not impossible to continue working.
The Blue Book Listing for Cancer
The team of healthcare professionals that help the SSA determine the status of disability applications refers to a guide called the Blue Book.
The Blue Book includes a section called Listing of Impairments, which lists the diseases that might qualify applicants for disability benefits. The crucial word is “might” because the SSA applies a strict set of criteria for each impairment listed in the Blue Book.
Since there are close to 30 different types of cancers, Section 13.0 that lists the symptoms associated with each type of cancer is one of the longest sections in the Blue Book. Each type of cancer has its unique list of medical symptoms that the SSA uses to determine eligibility for financial assistance.
For each type of cancer, the SSA wants to know the answers to the following medical questions:
- Where was the origin of the tumors?
- How much have the tumors spread?
- When was the cancer detected?
- How has the patient responded to treatments?
- What are the effects of post-therapeutic residuals?
The SSA evaluates cancer claims by referring to the original area of the body where the cancer tumors started to grow. If a patient received a breast cancer diagnosis, but the cancer has spread into the lungs, the SSA refers to Section 13.10 that refers to breast cancer.
Using a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment
You might not meet the Blue Book listing for a specific cancer, but that does not mean your claim gets tossed by the SSA. The SSA allows applicants to use a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to determine eligibility for disability benefits.
An RFC assessment measures how much work you can accomplish while dealing with your cancer symptoms. Although the SSA conducts a comprehensive medical examination for an RFC assessment, you should ask your physician to conduct an examination as well.
Medical Evidence Required for a Cancer Disability Claim
The SSA wants to review medical evidence that is submitted by your primary care physician. It is important for you to keep track of each medical document when the time comes to file a disability claim. Your primary care doctor should submit biopsy and surgery notes, as well as a report that explains why the cancer is inoperable.
A pathology report describes the type of cancer you have, and imaging scans present evidence as to the location where the tumors have grown and increased in number. Your physician should also submit documentation of every treatment, including detailed accounts of every radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
Schedule a Free Evaluation
With the SSA denying a majority of disability claims, you need to know where you stand before you submit an application for financial assistance. Speak to a Social Security attorney to undergo a free case evaluation. Your lawyer should also help you with gathering and organizing all the medical documents.