If you’ve been told you have cancer, you might be wondering if you’ll be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, the answer may not be as straightforward as a yes or no.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has distinct eligibility conditions for each applicant. Some persons will be eligible for disability payments based solely on a cancer diagnosis, while others will require biopsy findings or physician’s notes confirming the illness is progressed or recurrent. Your eligibility will be determined by the type and stage of cancer you have.
Every cancer applicant is evaluated by the SSA using a medical reference called the Blue Book to see if they are qualified for financial assistance. Fortunately, the entire Blue Book is available online, so you can determine if you qualify right now.
Below is a list of cancers that might make you eligible for disability benefits.
Types of Cancer
Cancers that are aggressive or have a history of being difficult to treat will be eligible with simply a diagnosis. You should automatically be medically qualified for disability compensation if you have been diagnosed with one of the following cancers:
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Salivary cancers
- Sinonasal cancer
- Any small cell cancer
- Thyroid cancer
It’s called “unresectable” if you have surgery to remove your tumor, but it couldn’t be totally (or partially) removed. This will qualify you for disability benefits under the SSA’s impairment lists for most kinds of cancer.
“Distant metastases” refers to cancer that has progressed to sections of your body that are far away from where it started. This issue is referred to as “metastases beyond the localized lymph nodes” in the SSA’s cancer classifications.
While many cancer patients can continue to work while receiving chemo or radiation, for others, it is the cancer therapy that makes working difficult or impossible. Chemotherapy and radiation can severely limit your capacity to function normally. However, due to the SSA’s time requirement, it’s difficult to acquire disability because of chemo or radiation treatments. The Social Security Administration requires that you be unable to work for at least one year.
Many cancer survivors experience long-term side effects due to their therapy; these difficulties frequently do not manifest themselves for months or years after their illness has been successfully treated. It’s simpler to acquire Social Security disability payments when the long-term side effects of chemo or radiation are severe than when the short-term consequences are disabling.
To learn more about the diseases that qualify for disability, visit our blog page.