man receiving a cancer diagnosis

Can a Cancer Diagnosis Qualify You for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Learning that you have cancer is extremely overwhelming. With so many questions and fears running through your mind, it can be difficult to tell the floor from the ceiling, let alone to know what options you have for helping with your finances. When you’re focused on getting better, it can be very difficult to continue to work while going through treatment. Luckily, there are certain types of cancer that can immediately qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits

Compassionate Allowances

Per the rules of the Social Security Administration (SSA), many types of cancer fall under what is called Compassionate Allowances. These Compassionate Allowances allow for the SSA to choose certain diseases and conditions to automatically meet the required standards for SSD benefits. 

Since the average SSD benefits application can take a minimum of three to five months to be approved, with a few months after that to see your first payment, Compassionate Allowances allow those who are dealing with some more serious conditions to gain access to these benefits faster. 

Cancers Under Compassionate Allowances

Currently there are more than 30 types of cancer that qualify for benefits under Compassionate Allowances. These cancers usually last for at least a year, but can also be terminal. Some of the most common of these cancers include:

  • Certain types of breast cancer 
  • Certain types of bladder cancer 
  • Liver cancer 
  • Non-small cell lung cancer 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Thyroid cancer 
  • Esophageal cancer 

Evaluating Your Cancer

When evaluating the types of cancers, the SSA considers the following four factors:

  • The origins of the cancer
  • How involved the cancer is
  • The treatment/therapy of the cancer (length of time, frequency and effects, recurrence)
  • The impact of treatment/therapy (side effects)

Additionally, the SSA has different requirements for different types of cancer. This includes medical evidence concerning the type of cancer, the severity and extent of the cancer, and the location of the primary metastatic lesion. 

Other Treatment Details

The SSA will also look at any operative notes and pathology reports concerning operative procedures. 

Because the effects of one cancer treatment can greatly differ between individuals, the SSA requires the following additional information: 

  • Type and dosage of the drug
  • Frequency and length of time that the drug is administered
  • Severity and extent of any surgeries
  • Fields and schedule of radiation therapy

Ultimately, the SSA is collecting all of this information to determine whether or not it is reasonable for you to be able to engage in gainful activity during the next 12 months. 

The PA SSD Attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP Can Help

When you are struggling with a cancer diagnosis that prevents you from working, you may not know what to do. Luckily, the attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP can help. We understand the impact that cancer can have on your ability to make ends meet. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!