All Disability. All The Time.

Cancer and SSDI: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Social Security Disability |

A cancer diagnosis can abruptly disrupt your career due to the disease’s debilitating effects. The disease requires harsh treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. These can all take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional well-being and usually come with side effects. These may include fatigue, pain, nausea, cognitive issues and compromised immunity. They may prevent you from functioning optimally and from reliably performing your job.

Apart from the physical, mental and emotional challenges, you may also need to prepare for potential income loss. Losing your job might also mean losing employment-tied health insurance. Thus, securing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) becomes critical to avoiding financial ruin.

Does a cancer diagnosis automatically qualify you for SSDI?

You may wonder if, due to its significant impact on your health and your life in general, cancer automatically qualifies you for SSDI benefits. The short answer is it depends.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not award SSDI based solely on a cancer diagnosis. Instead, they evaluate how the condition affects your ability to work. Among the key factors the SSA considers for cancer patients include:

  • The type and stage of cancer
  • The primary tumor’s location
  • Whether the cancer has metastasized (spread)
  • The side effects of treatment and its impact on bodily function

The SSA lists severe impairments automatically qualifying for SSDI. The cancer types that fall under this list include lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer and prostate cancer with specific characteristics.

If your cancer is not on the list, you may still be able to file for SSDI. You may need to prove that your condition prevents you from working at a substantial level. This may require providing detailed medical records, treatment notes and evidence of functional limitations.

How can you get SSDI approval?

The SSA evaluates each case individually. A favorable decision often hinges on the following:

  • The severity and duration of your symptoms
  • Your ability to perform job duties (including sedentary work)
  • Your age, education and work history

Navigating the SSDI process with a cancer diagnosis can be challenging. However, it is not impossible. An experienced disability lawyer can guide you through the complex application and appeals process. They may also increase your chances of securing the SSDI benefits you need and deserve.