Being diagnosed with lung cancer is scary. You will have a ton of questions:
- Will I survive?
- How will this affect my family?
- Can I afford to be sick?
- Will I have to stop working?
The answers to these questions will depend on the type of cancer that you have.
Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Small-cell lung cancers are aggressive lung cancers that spread quickly. They are comparatively rare, and account for only 15 percent of lung cancers. Most small-cell cancers are caused by cigarette smoke. These cancers are very rare in non-smokers.
Oat cell cancers are the most common small-cell cancers. Like other small-cell lung cancers, oat cell cancer usually begins in the bronchi of the lungs. The cancer cells grow quickly and form large tumors. It is not uncommon for the tumors to have already metastasized to the bones, brain, or liver before the patient is diagnosed. For this reason, surgery is rarely an option. Small-cell lung cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
Because of the aggressive nature of small-cell lung cancers, a diagnosis of a small-cell lung cancer is all that is needed to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Patients with a diagnosis of small-cell lung cancer will also qualify for quicker processing of their claim under the Social Security Administration (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program.
Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Most lung cancers are non-small-cell lung cancers. Non-small-cell lung cancers are caused by a variety of factors including cigarette smoke, pollution, and chemical exposure.
These cancers tend to progress at a slower pace than small-cell lung cancers. But like all cancers, these are invasive tumors and they can be very serious. The prognosis will usually depend on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis.
When lung cancer spreads to hilar lymph nodes (the lymph nodes at the base of the lungs) or other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized. The SSA will automatically approve benefits to eligible applicants with metastasized lung cancer. They will also approve benefits for patients who have lung cancer that is inoperable (can’t be removed with surgery), unresectable (cannot be completely removed with surgery) or recurrent (comes back after treatment). Patients who meet these conditions also qualify for expedited application processing under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance Program.
What if you don’t meet these conditions? Speak to our Boston disability lawyers. You may be eligible for SSDI for lung cancer under a medical-vocational allowance. To learn more, request a free copy of Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.