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Colon Cancer and SSA Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration may award Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) either by determining a claimant’s condition meets or equals a listing on their Medical Listing of Impairments (informally known as the Blue Book) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Medical Listing of Impairments for Cancer

The Social Security Administration evaluates most cancers under Listing 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. Cancers covered under this listing include:

13.18 Large intestine
13.19 Liver or gallbladder
13.20 Pancreas
13.21 Kidneys, adrenal glands, or ureters-carcinoma
13.22 Urinary bladder-carcinoma
13.23 Cancers of the female genital tract--carcinoma or sarcoma
13.24 Prostate gland--carcinoma
13.25 Testicles
13.26 Penis
13.27 Primary site unknown
13.28 Malignant neoplastic diseases treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation

As you can see, many of the most common types of cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer are not on the list. Does this mean you will not be awarded benefits? No, if you can prove that your colon cancer meets the severity of other cancers on this list, for example it has become inoperable or has become unresectable, you may be awarded either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Meeting a Medical Vocational Allowance for Colon Cancer

What if your colon cancer is not severe enough to meet or equal a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments? The Social Security Administration will review your residual functional capacity (RFC) to work and determine if should be awarded benefits through a medical vocational allowance.

So how will the SSA make their disability determination? They will evaluate your ability to perform work-related tasks despite your conditions and the related symptoms.

First the SSA will determine if you have the RFC or residual functional capacity to perform heavy, medium, light or sedentary work. So what types of limitations may reduce your residual functional capacity to work?

• Weakness and fatigue
• Organ damage from chemotherapy
• Tissue damage
• Side effects of radiation or other types of treatment
• Evidence of depression
• Side effects of medications and dosages
• Frequency of drug administration
• Extents of necessary surgeries
• Schedule or radiation treatments
• Limitations to reach or lift
• Limitations using your hands or arms
• Nausea
• Loss of weight
• Continuing gastrointestinal symptoms
• Neurological complications

The SSA will determine you are disabled through a medical vocational allowance if they decide that the colon cancer has lowered your residual functional capacity so low that you are not able to do any job that you are qualified to perform in the national economy given your age, work history, educational level, and RFC.

The SSA will also consider whether or not your treatment should conclude within 12 months, for example, you may be extremely sick right now, but in many cases a person who has proper medical treatment, including chemotherapy or radiation, may be able to return to work within 12 months.

What information do I need?

The Social Security Administration will request medical evidence of your condition from your treating doctors. Consistent medical care and records which clearly identify your diagnosis and your functional limitations to work can greatly increase your chances of winning both SSI and SSDI benefits.