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Cancer and Social Security Disability

doctor3.jpgThere were 6,876,600 men and 7,607,230 women living with cancer in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2014, according to a report from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. These numbers do not include noninvasive cancer (except urinary bladder cancer), basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers. Adding people with these cancers would raise the total number of cancer patients significantly.

Living with a diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence anymore. According to the report, 64 percent of cancer survivors were diagnosed five or more years ago and 15 percent of survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago. The report says that almost half of cancer survivors are 70 or older.

Patients whose cancer is inoperable, aggressive or unresectable, whose cancer has returned after treatment, or whose cancer has metastasized are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Because SSD defines disability as an impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a year or more, people undergoing cancer treatment are less likely to be approved because treatment stops, making it possible for these patients to work again, at least in theory.

People diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer are eligible for what Social Security calls "compassionate allowances." This means that applications from patients with certain forms of cancer advance through the claims process much more quickly. Although people can be approved for benefits when they have other types of cancer, having a diagnosis that appears on the compassionate allowances list means that your claim will be handled much more quickly. A partial list of cancers included on that list appears below.

  • Acute leukemia
  • Adrenal cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Adult non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Alveolar soft part sarcoma
  • Anaplastic adrenal cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Bladder cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Breast cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Carcinoma of unknown primary site
  • Child non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - recurrent
  • Child T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma
  • Chondrosarcoma - with multimodal therapy
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) - blast phase
  • Endometrial stromal sarcoma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Follicular dendritic cell sarcoma - metastatic or recurrent
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (adult brain tumor)
  • Glioma grade III and IV
  • Head and neck cancers - with distant metastasis or inoperable or unresectable
  • Hepatoblastoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
  • Kidney cancer - inoperable or unresectable
  • Large intestine cancer - with distant metastasis or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis
  • Liposarcoma - metastatic or recurrent
  • Liver cancer
  • Lymphomatoid granulomatosis - grade III
  • Malignant brain stem gliomas - childhood
  • Malignant ectomesenchymoma
  • Malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Malignant germ cell tumor
  • Malignant melanoma - with metastases
  • Malignant renal rhabdoid tumor
  • Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)
  • Medulloblastoma - with metastases
  • Merkel cell carcinoma - with metastases
  • Mixed dementias
  • Mucosal malignant melanoma
  • Neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Nonsmall cell lung cancer - with metastases to or beyond the hilar nodes or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Oligodendroglioma brain tumor - grade III
  • Osteosarcoma, formerly known as bone cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Ovarian cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Peripheral nerve cancer - metastatic or recurrent
  • Peritoneal mucinous carcinomatosis
  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma
  • Primary effusion lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer - hormone refractory disease - or with visceral metastases
  • Pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Salivary tumors
  • Sinonasal cancer
  • Small cell cancer (of the large intestine, ovary, prostate, thymus or uterus)
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Small intestine cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Soft tissue sarcoma - with distant metastases or recurrent
  • Spinal nerve root cancer-metastatic or recurrent
  • Stomach cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Ureter cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

This is not a complete of the cancers currently on the compassionate allowances list. Moreover, diseases are added to the list periodically.

If you were diagnosed with cancer and will be unable to work for at least a year, it is important to determine your options as soon as possible. At Binder & Binder®, our advocates help people diagnosed with all types of cancer, including those on the compassionate allowances list, obtain needed disability benefits. We are America's most successful disability advocates, so give us a call and find out how we can help.

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