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Stomach Tumors and SSA Disability Benefits

The stomach, which is part of the digestive system, helps digest food. It consists of five layers: inner layer or lining (mucosa), submucosa, muscle layer, subseros and the outer layer (serosa).

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Stomach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]Stomach.[/caption]

Stomach tumors can develop 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. Obviously, non-cancerous or benign stomach tumors are not has harmful as cancerous tumors because they are easily removed, they do not spread to other organs or tissues and are rarely life-threatening.

Cancerous stomach tumors, such as a gastric tumor, can be very dangerous. Cancerous gastric tumors may start in the stomach but spread to other organs or tissues (frequently the liver, esophagus or the intestines). They also may be removed but frequently reappear (this process is known as metastasis).

Winning SSDI or SSI for a stomach tumor

The Social Security Administration has two methods of determining disability for a claimant. 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). Claimants can also have a condition which may not “meet or exceed a listing” but does not allow them to continue to work. This process is called a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing for Cancer and Winning SSDI or SSI

Stomach tumors can be evaluated by comparing the condition to listings found in Section 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases in the SSA Blue Book. Cancer is specifically evaluated against listing 13.16 Esophagus or stomach and claimants must prove that they have carcinoma or sarcoma of the esophagus or carcinoma or sarcoma of the stomach and it is inoperable, unresectable, extending to surrounding structures, or recurrent with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.

The SSA will review the type, extent and site of the cancer. They will expect for you to have current medical notes which can include operative notes, pathology reports, summaries of hospitalization(s) or other medical reports. This evidence should include details of the findings at surgery and, whenever appropriate, the pathological findings. In other cases they will expect to have information on the “recurrence, persistence, or progression of the malignancy, the response to therapy, and any significant residuals.”

The SSA will also review surgeries, drugs given, frequency of medical treatment, continuing gastrointestinal symptoms, persistent weakness, neurological complications, cardiovascular complications and reactive mental disorders due to the cancer.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Stomach Tumors through a medical vocational allowance

Now, just having cancer will not necessarily guarantee that you will meet a listing as described above. If you cannot prove that you cannot meet a listing it is possible to prove that you do not have the residual capacity to work.

It is also not unusual for certain types of cancers to be found disabling for a specific time period following the diagnosis (for example at least 18 months from the date of diagnosis). After that point the SSA would have to reevaluate whether medical evidence supports your continued designation of disabled.

Generally, claimants who do not meet a listing will get denied the first time they apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. It may be a good idea to talk to a disability lawyer if your conditions and symptoms do not meet or exceed a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments.
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