Anyone who has lived with loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer knows just how devastating the disease can be and how difficult it can be for someone suffering from cancer to support themselves.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes cancer as a disabling condition that can qualify you for disability benefits. However, a cancer diagnosis alone is not enough to meet the SSA’s requirements for benefits.
The SSA currently recognizes 28 listings for cancer.
Whether an applicant meets any of these listings depends on the cancer’s origin, the extent of its involvement, how it has responded to any anticancer therapies, and any after effects of those therapies.
Remember that to qualify for disability benefits, an applicant must suffer from an impairment lasting, or expecting to last 12 months (or resulting in death), that prevents him or her from working.
This means that many types of cancers do not qualify for disability benefits as often treatment is only expected to last a few months. Some people are able to continue working with few disruptions while undergoing treatment.
But for those who are unable to work for at least 12 months after a cancer diagnosis, it is important to get as much medical documentation as possible.
This might include x-rays, MRIs, or any surgical notes. It’s also important to document treatment and its residual effects, including any drugs taken and their dosages, as well as schedules of radiation therapies.
If you suffer from any impairments related to cancer treatment, such as neurological, cardiovascular, or gastrointestinal disorders, or mental impairments such as confusion and forgetfulness, it is important to document these as well.
In many cases, applicants may not meet the requirements to obtain disability benefits for the cancer diagnosis itself, but the side effects of treatment can render them disabled and eligible for benefits.