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Can I qualify for SSD benefits if I have cancer?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | Social Security Disability Benefits

Cancer is a terrible disease that affects your health, your quality of life and the lives of your loved ones. Oftentimes the disease lasts longer than a year or is terminal. The Social Security Administration recognizes this and lists cancer as one of the impairments that could qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits if all pertinent criteria are met.

Factors considered

The SSA will consider several factors when determining whether to award SSD benefits for cancer. These factors include:

  • The origin of the cancer
  • The extent of involvement
  • The duration, frequency and response to treatments that fight the cancer, and
  • The effects of any post-treatment residuals

The SSA has specific criteria for specific types of cancers as well that must be met.

Evidence needed

To award SSD benefits for cancer, the SSA needs medical evidence specifying the type, extent and site of the cancer. If the primary site cannot be determined, evidence of metastasis sites will be used to determine the impairment. If the applicant underwent surgery, a biopsy or needle aspiration, the SSA will want a copy of the operative note and pathology report. If these documents cannot be provided, the SSA will consider the summary of hospital stays and medical reports that detail the findings at surgery and, if appropriate, pathological findings as well. Depending on the circumstance, the SSA may also require evidence of cancer that is reoccurring, persistent or progressive along with evidence of the applicant’s response to treatment and any significant residuals.

Longitudinal evidence and types of treatment

Although there are some exceptions, the SSA usually does not require longitudinal evidence of metastatic cancer that spreads beyond the lymph nodes. If there are not any distant metastases, the SSA may need evidence of the applicant’s response to initial treatment, whether it is a single modality or is multimodual. There are also requirements of evidence that must met regarding the type of treatment received.

Learn more about SSD benefits

Learning you have cancer can be life-changing. You may incur significant medical expenses and depending on the severity of the disease you may be unable to work for a year or more. In such situations you may want to pursue SSD benefits, to help you make ends meet during a difficult time.