Applying for Disability Benefits with Sarcoma

Article by Ram Meyyappan

Sarcoma is a form of cancer that can develop almost anywhere in the body, and dependent upon the form it takes, it can qualify you for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The severity level of your cancer, as well as the length of time you have had the condition, determines whether or not you medically qualify for benefits.

Also important in receiving disability benefit through either or both of the SSA’s disability programs is whether or not you satisfy the technical eligibility rules for qualification. Read on to learn more.

Medical Eligibility

Regardless of where sarcoma occurs, it must be advanced of severe in order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Newly diagnosed cancers do not typically qualify for benefits, nor do cases that respond well to treatment. Generally speaking, in order for cancer to meet the medical eligibility requirements for automatically qualifying for benefits, it must be incurable, inoperable, or must have recurred following initial treatment. Usually, it must also have spread or progressed.

There are two primary ways in which applicants with sarcoma qualify for benefits:

  • Meet or match a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book
  • Qualify for benefits under the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program

In some cases, applicants are also able to qualify for benefits by proving they suffer such severe limitations that they are unable to hold a job in any field, despite not meeting or matching a listed condition. In these instances, eligibility is granted through a medical vocational allowance, after the completion of a residual functional capacity analysis (RFC).

The Blue Book

The Blue Book is a manual of known disabling conditions and the criteria for qualifying for benefits with each condition. There are numerous forms of sarcoma listed in the Blue Book and there are also listings the SSA may compare your application and medical records to in order to see if your sarcoma matches in severity another listed condition.

In other words, a Blue Book listing may exist for your specific form of sarcoma. Or, if there is no listing, the SSA may use another similar listing to see if your sarcoma is equal in severity to it.

It is also important to realize that your sarcoma will be reviewed under the body system affected originally by the disease. You will find the listings for sarcoma in Section 13.00 of the Blue Book, called malignant neoplastic diseases.

For more information on qualify for disability with a malignant neoplastic disease, visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/malignant-neoplastic-diseases

The CAL Program

The SSA maintains a list of compassionate allowances, or conditions that are deemed so severe that they automatically qualify medically for disability benefits. Certain forms of sarcoma are included in the CAL list, which can be seen in its entirety here: http://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm

 

Even under the CAL program, you must still complete the application process and submit appropriate medical records to:

  • prove the diagnosis

AND

  • show the severity level of the disease

CAL speeds up the review of your claim though, so you will have an approval sooner. Rather than waiting months, you will have a decision in weeks.

Medical Vocational Allowance

Even if your sarcoma does not meet or match a listed condition, you may still be able to get benefits through a medical vocational allowance. For this to occur, you and your doctor will need to complete RFC report forms. The SSA will use this information as well as what appears in your application and your medical records to determine your level of impairment. If your cancer is found to prevent you from working in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified, then you will receive SSD benefits.

Technical Qualification

Various forms of sarcoma can qualify you medically for SSD benefits through both of the SSA’s disability programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

However, you must also meet the technical eligibility requirements to receive benefits through either or both programs:

  • For SSDI, you must have work credits from previous employment and earn less than what the SSA considers a gainful living.
  • For SSI, you must have very limited assets, income, or other financial resources.

For specific qualification requirements, visit: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/

The Application Process

You can submit your application in two ways:

  • Online, via the SSA’s website
  • In-person, after completing a personal interview at your local SSA office

Online application is usually the fasted way to submit a claim. In-person application requires an appointment. Regardless of how you apply, you must be prepared to provide detailed information on your medical history, education, employment, and finances.

 

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
ram@ssd-help.org

 

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