Cancer typically develops slowly and often doesn’t present any noticeable symptoms in its earliest stages. By the time cancer is serious enough for people to go to the doctor, aggressive treatment is often necessary. Especially for those with cancer that has begun to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body, aggressive interventions like radiation and chemotherapy may be the recommended course of treatment.
Different forms of cancer can produce potentially debilitating symptoms as the condition worsens, ranging from generalized pain and loss of energy to shortness of breath, dizziness or weight loss. The treatments that people undergo can be similarly debilitating. Chemotherapy often leaves people unable to do even the most basic tasks for days on end.
If a doctor recently diagnosed you with cancer, does that mean you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?
Cancer and its treatment may qualify some people or SSDI
Cancers are among the medical condition that the Social Security Administration SSA considers disabling. The location and type of the cancer, as well as the stage to which it has progressed, will impact how the SSA views a disability application related to cancer.
The duration of treatment and the severity of the symptoms someone experiences will also matter. Generally, the condition has to persist for at least 12 months and prevent someone from working at all for them to qualify. Some people with cancer, especially those undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments, may meet the criteria for SSDI benefits according to the SSA.
Applicants need to be ready to prove the impact of their condition
Just submitting basic diagnostic paperwork showing that you have cancer won’t automatically connect you with SSDI benefits. Instead, you will need extensive records showing how the cancer itself has spread through your body and the symptoms that it produces, as well as the likely impact of the treatment that you will have to undergo.
It’s possible that some qualified applicants with cancer will get denied benefits at first, only to finally receive them after an appeal. Realizing that cancer can qualify you for SSDI might motivate you to apply or to appeal a potentially unfair denial of your claim.