Qualifying for SS with BC
Qualifying for Social Security with Breast Cancer
Are you or someone you know battling breast cancer? If so, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Social Security disability benefits are an option for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and need some extra assistance.
A diagnosis of breast cancer will almost always require surgery and/or radiation. Most breast cancer patients will also require chemotherapy. Without insurance the costs of these treatments can be astronomical. Disability benefits will relieve that stress. That means you can now focus on your health so you can get on the fast track to recovery!
Medically Qualifying With Breast Cancer
The Social Security Administration will use the Blue Book to determine if your breast cancer qualifies for disability benefits. Also known as the “Listing of Impairments,” the Blue Book lists various health conditions that might qualify for disability benefits.
However, you have to meet the specific criteria listed for the SSA to consider your breast cancer for disability benefits.
Here are five ways to qualify for disability benefits if you were diagnosed with breast cancer:
1. Your breast cancer is locally advanced and has spread to the chest wall, skin, or any internal mammary nodes.
2. Your cancer has spread to 10+ axillary nodes.
3. Your cancer has returned despite undergoing anticancer therapy—surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation will all qualify.
4. You have small cell breast cancer or inflammatory breast cancer.
5. Your breast cancer had secondary lymphedema caused by anticancer therapy, which required surgery to restore functioning of an arm. This will qualify for at least 12 months from the date of surgery.
The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review the breast cancer listing with your doctor or oncologist to get a better idea as to whether you’ll qualify.
Qualifying Without Meeting a Blue Book Listing: Compassionate Allowances
According to the Blue Book, most women will not qualify for disability benefits unless their breast cancer is Stage III-B or beyond. Breast cancer that is diagnosed as having distant metastases or that is inoperable or unresectable will give you a much greater chance of receiving disability benefits. If you have an earlier stage of breast cancer, it’ll still be possible to qualify—it’ll just be a little harder.
So, if you don’t qualify for the Blue Book listing, you can still get benefits another way. The Compassionate Allowance initiative expedites the disability benefits application for those who have the most serious forms of disabilities, such as breast cancer. With this initiative you can expect to receive a decision from the SSA much sooner (usually within a month).
If you meet one of the following criteria, the SSA will expedite the process of your claim with the potential to receive a response in as little as ten days.
● If chemotherapy does not work and the cancer returns
● If your cancer is inoperable or unresectable
● If you have IBC or metastatic breast cancer
Just remember that even though Compassionate Allowances will expedite the disability application process for you, you will still have to wait about five months to receive your first payment.
The SSA will also consider applicants who have an early stage of cancer if they’re able to prove that they’re completely unable to work for at least 12 months due to cancer treatments. Applicants who have physically challenging jobs will have a much easier time qualifying at an early stage than someone who has a desk job.
You’ll also have an easier time qualifying if you’re over age 50. At that point, the SSA does not expect you to become completely re-trained for a new career that’s less physically demanding.
Starting Your Application
The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online from the comfort of your own home. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person with the help of a Social Security representative at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to apply in person, simply call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.
You should hear back from the SSA regarding your claim within five months, but anyone with IBC or metastatic breast cancer should be approved within a couple of weeks.
Written by: Lauren DiCenso