Mesothelioma symptoms range from coughing to shortness of breath and weight loss. Depending on the extent and type of the disease a patient has, mesothelioma can severely limit the kind of work they can do. This disease can literally put people out of work for the rest of their life.
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes many life-altering conditions, including mesothelioma. And for those diagnosed with the most common types of mesothelioma, the application process can be easy, fast, and likely to result in benefits.
Mesothelioma and Social Security Disability
The most straightforward way to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is by meeting the SSA’s listing for cancers of the pleura or mediastinum (the tissues surrounding the lungs and heart). Specifically, if you have certain types of mesothelioma, your case will move even faster.
Compassionate Allowance for Mesothelioma
Patients diagnosed with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma qualify for the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program. Under these cases, the SSA will prioritize and move extremely quickly to provide financial benefits to patients and their families.
The diseases that prompt compassionate allowances are typically aggressive or terminal, and the program allows beneficiaries to know for certain their case is approved, rather than having to wait the typical four to five months to find out about your initial application.
In order to be considered a compassionate allowance case, you must meet both the medical requirements (your mesothelioma diagnosis) as well as the non-medical criteria associated with applying for disability insurance benefits (DIB) or supplemental security income (SSI).
Standard Applications for Other Mesothelioma Diagnoses
If your diagnosis doesn’t fall under the two types mentioned above, your application will go through the SSA as normal. The Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) checks with medical experts to judge whether an applicant qualifies as disabled under several different guidelines.
One of these guidelines is the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. The DDB looks at your diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment plans to discover the types of work you are capable of performing. Even if your symptoms alone don’t qualify you for disability benefits, certain surgeries or procedures can leave lasting side effects, like being easily fatigued, that would make most jobs difficult or impossible.
In conjunction with the RFC, they also use something called the medical-vocational allowance. They cross-reference your doctor’s notes, your personal statements, your diagnosis, and the medical-vocational allowance to try and determine whether you need disability benefits or whether you can find work (and income) from an employer.
Filing a Mesothelioma Disability Application
Though mesothelioma can be a straightforward disease to apply for Social Security disability benefits, that’s not always the case. For those without clear diagnoses or apparent symptoms, the process may make it difficult to present the evidence that will convince the SSA you deserve disability benefits.
Working with a qualified Social Security disability lawyer is one way to help you with your application. Lawyers know the application process inside and out, including the kinds of evidence needed to strengthen each case. You can start a conversation with one of Hensley Legal Group’s disability lawyers today by giving us a call or contacting us online. We’re here to help and won’t be paid until you are.