Social Security Disability Benefits for Cancer Patients
Most of us know several people who have successfully battled cancer, but getting this type of serious diagnosis from our own medical providers is still a shock. Your prognosis and treatment will largely depend on the type of cancer you have and how early it was detected. Unfortunately, at Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo we know that even less severe cases that are caught early can still have a dramatic effect on every area of your life.
As the result of your illness or the treatments you are receiving, you may be unable to work or provide for yourself. In these situations, social security disability benefits (SSDI) can provide some much-needed relief while you recover. As an experienced social security lawyer, we can help guide you through every step of the benefit application process. With three generations worth of experience in serving Pennsylvania residents, we are a trusted resource for getting the help you need when the unexpected occurs.
Cancer and SSDI Benefits
According to the American Cancer Society, close to 15 million people are currently living with cancer in the United States. On average, both men and women have a roughly 40% chance of developing some type of cancer over the course of their lives. Among the most common types of cancer diagnosis include:
- Breast cancer;
- Prostate cancer;
- Colorectal cancer;
- Lung cancer;
- Bladder cancer;
- Skin cancers and melanomas;
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma;
- Throat cancer;
- Cancers of the stomach, liver, and pancreas.
While the above tend to affect the greatest numbers of people, these are just some of the more than 100 different types of cancer which are diagnosed each year.
Cancer treatments depend on the type, the location, and how rapidly it has spread to other parts of the body. Eliminating cancer often involves radiation or chemotherapy therapy treatments and surgical procedures to remove masses and damaged tissue. In addition to impacts, patients suffer due to symptoms of the disease, such as drastic weight changes, appetite loss, general weakness, and sleep disturbances, diagnostic testing and treatments can have a dramatic effect on their health, as well.
In situations in which diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from cancer prevent you from working, social security disability benefits may be able to help you continue to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Administered through the Social Security Administration (SSA), SSDI can help to replace lost income due to permanent disabilities, or until you recover and are able to return to work.
SSDI Application Process
SSDI benefits may be available to both you and your family members, provided you meet SSA eligibility requirements. As these benefits are paid for by taxes deducted from your paycheck, your work history is a consideration, along with medical evidence of your disability.
SSA considers your recent work history, based on the age at which you became disabled. They also consider your length of employment, but even young people with limited experience may still be eligible for SSDI benefits. The information you will need to submit along with your application includes:
- Your Social Security number;
- Your baptismal or birth certificate;
- Contact information for your doctors, caseworkers, or other medical providers or facilities where you obtained testing or treatment;
- Any medical records you have in your possession;
- A list of all diagnostic testing you have undergone and the results of those tests;
- A list of all medications you are currently prescribed, along with dosage;
- Copies of W-2s or past tax returns if you are self-employed;
- A written summary of your prior work history.
This information can be submitted through local Social Security offices in Pennsylvania. Once all information has been collected and your eligibility for SSDI is verified based on employment history, you claim with be sent to state Disability Determination Services (DDS), who will evaluate whether you meet medical qualifications.
In a previous post, we discussed the social security disability claims process and how long it can take for benefits to be approved. For those with a cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible for benefits through the Compassionate Allowances program. This program can speed up the application process for those suffering certain types of cancers, enabling them to get their SSDI benefits on a faster basis.
Remission and Social Security Disability Benefits
Remission is a consideration for those receiving SSDI due to a cancer diagnosis. The National Cancer Institute defines remission as the decrease or disappearance of cancer signs and symptoms. Remission may be partial, allowing the patient to resume some of his or her usual activities, or it may be complete, although cancer may still exist in parts of the body.
In cases of partial or complete remission, you may still be entitled to SSDI benefits, even if you are able to return to work. SSA policies require an adjudicative team to monitor each claim. Based on the claimants’ medical condition and prognosis, there are two types of diaries they may keep in making notes about your case:
- Medical Improvement Expected (MIE) diaries, for individuals who, based on medical determinations, are expected to recover fully from the disease at some point;
- Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) diaries, in cases where a claimant is expected to suffer permanent disabilities.
For those with cancer, the choice between using an MIE or MINE diary depends on the type of cancer the person has and the extent to which it has spread through the body. In cases involving an MIE, a three-year period of remission is generally required before SSA will change your disability status.
This does not mean your benefits cannot be canceled during this period. If you begin working and are determined to be capable of substantial gainful activity (SGA), with earnings that the SSA considers as enabling you to provide financially for yourself, your benefits could be reduced or terminated. As covered in a previous post on when social security benefits are denied in Pennsylvania, in this situation our social security lawyer may be able to request a hearing to have them reinstated. We may also be able to appeal any decision the SSA team makes impacting your eligibility or the total amount you receive.
How Our Social Security Disability Attorney can Help
When you are seeking social security disability benefits for a life-changing medical diagnosis such as cancer, you need a trusted legal advocate on your side, fighting for your rights and interests. At Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo, we have been representing clients throughout Pennsylvania since 1936, and are dedicated to helping you get the benefits to which you are entitled.
Contact our office at 800-952-9640 to request an individual, one on one consultation with one of our experienced Philadelphia Social Security disability attorneys. We can help guide you through all aspects of the SSDI application process, ensuring your application is submitted properly and with all supporting evidence. This can make a huge difference in your case, reducing the risks of having your claim denied while helping you get the benefits you need in the fastest manner possible.
When it comes to matters impacting your health and financial security, do not take any chances. With 12 offices to serve you throughout Pennsylvania, call or contact Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo online today.