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Breast Cancer and SSA Disability Benefits

Although a diagnosis of breast cancer can be very scary it may not mean that you are automatically disabled according to the Social Security Administration. For breast cancer the SSA would evaluate whether the condition is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer but you have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy and you will be able to return to work in less than 12 continuous months, you may not qualify for SSDI or SSI.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Histopathology: microscopic appearance of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. The slide is stained with Haematoxylin & Eosin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]Histopathology: microscopic appearance of inva...[/caption]

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, and it is estimated that over 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year. It is caused when a collection of cancer cells causes a malignant tumor in the breast. The types and severity vary but can include ductal carcinoma (which has not spread), invasive ductal carcinoma (cancer which started in the duct of the breasts but has spread to surrounding tissues), Invasive lobular carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, mixed tumors, medullary carcinoma,and inflammatory breast cancer.

Breast cancer can be detected with ultrasound, thermography, MRIs and CATscans. The Social Security Administration would expect that claimants would have a diagnosis for their condition and that they would be getting the proper treatment.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Breast Cancer

The Social Security Administration has two methods to determine if a claimant is disabled and qualifies for SSDI or SSI: the claimant’s condition meets a listing on the SSA listing of Impairments (also known as the “Blue Book” this listing identifies the conditions and symptoms that the SSA finds automatically disabling), or the claimant proves through a medical vocational allowance that the claimant does not have the residual capacity to work.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Breast Cancer

The SSA does have a listing for breast cancer. They evaluate breast cancer under 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic  Diseases, Section 13.10 Breast Cancer. According to the SSA, under this section they are specifically evaluating “the origin of the malignancy, the extent of involvement, the duration, the frequency, the response to antineoplastic therapy (surgery, irradiation, chemotherapy, hormones, immunotherapy, or bone marrow or stem cell transplantation) and the effects of any post-therapeutic residuals.”

For breast cancer the SSA will specifically evaluate if the claimant has evidence of an inoperable carcinoma, inflammatory carcinoma, a carcinoma which has spread too far for surgical removal of the cancer (also called distant metastasis), sarcoma cancer with any number of mastastases anywhere or recurrent carcinoma except at the local site which has responded to prescribed treatment or therapy.

Winning benefits for breast cancer through a medical vocational allowance

If the claimant’s condition does not meet or exceed the breast cancer listing they will have to prove that they cannot work. Proving the inability to work can be done if you can prove that your treatment, for instance, has left you weak, tired, or nauseous. Additionally, you might be able to prove you have to take high levels of medication that may make it unsafe for you to work or your scheduled treatment makes it impossible to maintain a normal work day or work week.

Other claimants who have had a radical mastectomy may be able to prove that due to the removal of some of their chest muscles they are unable to complete certain types of physical activities.

If your condition does not meet a listing it is generally a good idea to talk to a disability lawyer and find out what medical information you need to prove you cannot work and qualify for SSI or SSDI.
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