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Brain Tumors and SSA Disability Benefits

The brain, which is comprised of the cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem, is an amalgamation of tissue and nerves which transmits messages to the entire body. The brain has many functions such as directing our body to perform voluntary and involuntary activities.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="English: Smear section of an intraoperative brain tumor, histologically diagnosed as plasmocytoma (Mann staining, x200) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]English: Smear section of an intraoperative br...[/caption]

Brain tumors can develop in the brain when cells begin to develop incorrectly, often building and developing into masses of tissues or tumors. Tumors can be benign, which means they are not cancerous, or they can be malignant. Cancerous brain tumors are very dangerous. The severity of symptoms will depend on the size, type and location of the tumor. Various conditions also can develop depending on what part of the brain is compressed. Common signs and symptoms of a brain tumor can include:

If you have been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor it may have started in the brain but can spread to other organs or tissues in a process known as metastasis.

Winning SSDI or SSI for a brain tumor

The Social Security Administration has two methods of determining whether a claimant can get SSDI or SSI for a brain tumor. Brain tumor claimants can either have a condition which is listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments (also called the Blue Book this is a listing of all the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling) or they can prove that their brain tumor and the resulting symptoms are so severe that although they may not “meet or exceed a listing” the condition remains so severe it does not allow them to continue to work. This process is called a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing and getting SSDI or SSI for Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can be evaluated by comparing the condition to listings found in Section 11.00 Brain Tumors in the SSA Blue Book. Benign brain tumors are specifically evaluated against listing 11.05 Benign Brain Tumors. The SSA will consider if you suffer from any of the symptoms which are common to epileptic claimants who have seizures.  Claimants also must have seizures more frequently than one time per month and have been getting treatment for at least 3 months.

Claimants can also prove that their tumor is causes sensory or motor aphasia resulting in ineffective speech or communication or they have significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.

Claimants who have a cancerous brain tumor may have it evaluated against other conditions listed in Section 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases in the SSA Blue Book. Keep in mind that because a brain tumor can cause a variety of very severe symptoms it may be possible to meet a listing that is not specifically related to brain tumors.

Winning SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance for brain tumors

Now, just having cancer will not necessarily guarantee that you will meet a listing as described above. If you cannot prove that you meet a listing, it is possible to prove that you do not have the residual capacity to work. For instance, a claimant could prove that they have severe memory loss, vision or speech impairments or numbness to such a degree that they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

As with other cancers, it is not unusual that the SSA may determine you are disabled for a specific time period following the diagnosis (for example at least 18 months from the date of diagnosis and treatment). For instance, if you had an operable brain tumor it may be possible to get it removed and rehabilitate and return to work at some point in the future.
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