February 4, 2019
World Cancer Day is February 4, and everyone, if they haven’t experienced it themselves, knows or has known someone affected by some kind of cancer. Though cancer rates have been on the decline across the board in Indiana, it’s still a leading cause of death and disability.
In case you come down with any type of cancer, one of the concerns that’ll undoubtedly come to mind is how you’ll make ends meet with the costs—economic and noneconomic—of treatment and recovery. You may wonder if it’s possible to receive disability benefits while you’re undergoing treatment.
Fortunately, depending on the type and severity of your cancer, you’ll likely have many options to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Unresectable, Recurrent, or Metastatic
Right off the bat, it’s important to know that more aggressive cancers—pancreatic, thyroid, esophageal, and others—have straightforward processes for disability benefit qualification.
That’s because aggressive cancers tend to have some contributing factors that the Social Security Administration (SSA) list as necessary to qualify for disability benefits. If your cancer has even one of these attributes, you’ll likely be medically eligible to receive aid.
First, your cancer may be deemed “unresectable.” Simply put, this means you underwent surgery or other treatment to remove a malignant tumor, but either the growth itself proved inoperable (partially or entirely), or the area it was in proved too much of a risk factor to remove the whole tumor.
Any level of inoperability on a malignant tumor gives you a much greater chance of qualification.
Second, the tumor itself may be “recurrent.” This one’s rather straightforward: the surgery or chemotherapy was a complete success in treating the initial growth, but the tumor returned after some time. This automatically increases the chances of the cancer disabling you, and the SSA generally provides disability benefits in this case.
“Metastatic” is another aspect of cancer that typically qualifies you for disability benefits. If your cancer spreads beyond the initial area of development (like pancreatic cancer can spread to the liver, lungs, bones, and other areas), the SSA tends to cover these cancers. However, if those treating you deem it possible that the tumors in the new areas could respond fully to treatment, the SSA may hold off on providing disability benefits until those possibilities prove fruitless.
Other Types of Disability Through Cancer
Sometimes, the cancer itself is not the thing that keeps you from doing what you want to do. Often, the treatment for cancer is just as—if not more—debilitating than the disease itself.
If you can conclusively and medically prove that the side effects of treatment are the cause of your disability, you can be eligible for benefits. For example, chemotherapy can cause both short-term side effects (sores, blood disorders) and long-term ones (heart, lung, and nervous system damage).
When Your Diagnosis May Not Be Enough to Qualify for Disability
Unfortunately, being diagnosed with cancer, even an aggressive form, may not be enough to qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. In addition to meeting medical requirements, there are other prerequisites you must meet to qualify for disability benefits:
- You must be unable to earn a certain amount each month ($1,220 for non-blind individuals in 2019) due to your conditions.
- Your conditions must last or be expected to last at least 12 months.
- If you plan to apply for disability insurance benefits (DIB), you must have a certain number of work credits.
- If you plan to apply for supplemental security income (SSI), you must meet certain household income limitations.
Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer
You don’t have to let the debilitating nature of cancer have the final say. If you or someone you know is facing the reality of a cancer diagnosis and all the problems that come with it, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim. Our Social Security disability lawyers are here to help.