In 2017, there were approximately 79,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in the United States. It is currently the fourth most common cancer for men and it may also occur Bladder Cancer and Social Security Disability in women. The survival rate depends on the stage of your cancer and ranges from a 98 percent five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with Stage 0 bladder cancer to a 15 percent five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with Stage IV bladder cancer.

Living with bladder cancer can be difficult and may prevent you from working. Accordingly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has included bladder cancer in its Listing of Impairments and may find you eligible for disability benefits if you qualify.

Do You Have Bladder Cancer?

Only a doctor can diagnose you with bladder cancer. However, it is important to be aware of factors that may make you more likely to develop this disease and to recognize the symptoms. You may be more likely to develop bladder cancer if:

  • You are a smoker. When you smoke, you allow harmful chemicals to enter your body. Some of these chemicals pass to the urine and can damage the cells lining the bladder.

  • You work with industrial chemicals. Exposure to certain chemicals used in manufacturing has been found to increase the risk of bladder cancer.

  • You have had previous cancer treatment. The anti-cancer drug Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) has been linked to bladder cancer. Radiation treatment of pelvic cancers may also increase bladder cancer risk.

  • You have taken certain diabetes medications. The diabetes drugs Actos (pioglitazone), Actoplus Met (pioglitazone and metformin), and Duetect (pioglitazone and glimepiride) have been linked to bladder cancer when taken for periods of a year or longer.

  • You have chronic bladder inflammation. Patients who suffer chronic bladder infections or repeated episodes of cystitis have a high risk of developing bladder cancer.

  • You are over 40 years old. Most people diagnosed with bladder cancer are over age 55.

  • You are male. This disease is more prevalent among men than women.

  • You are Caucasian. Caucasian Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than Americans of different races.

  • You have a personal history or a family history of cancer. You have an increased risk of bladder cancer if you or any of your immediate family members have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, Lynch syndrome (colorectal cancer), or a cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovaries.

 Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Unexplained fatigue.

  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss.

  • Unexplained abdominal pain.

  • Unusually frequent urination.

  • Pain or burning during urination.

  • Blood in the urine.

If you experience any of these symptoms, then it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible so that you can get an accurate diagnosis and so that you can get started on a treatment plan. It may also be time to consider whether you are eligible for Social Security disability.

Bladder Cancer Is Included in the Listing of Impairments

The Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments includes a listing for bladder cancer. You will be automatically approved for Social Security disability benefits if you are not working and you meet the requirements of disability listing 13.22, urinary bladder carcinoma.

To qualify for disability benefits pursuant to listing 13.22, you must provide medical records that document at least one of the following conditions:

  • Bladder cancer that is inoperable or cannot be removed by surgery.

  • Bladder cancer that has reoccurred after the complete removal of your bladder. 

  • Bladder cancer that has infiltrated beyond the bladder wall (Stage 3).

  • Bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or beyond the lymph nodes closest to the bladder (Stage 4).

  • A diagnosis of small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.

If you are unable to work, but you do not meet any of the requirements in this listing, then you may still be eligible for Social Security disability if you qualify in another way.

Other Ways to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits pursuant to disability listing 13.22, then you may qualify for benefits in another way.

For example, you could qualify for benefits if you cannot do any work given your disability, age, education, and employment history. The Social Security Administration will consider your residual functional capacity when determining whether you can engage in substantially gainful activity.

You could also qualify for benefits if you can prove that your symptoms are at least equal in severity to the symptoms of another listing in the Listing of Impairments.

Your Claim May Be Expedited If You Have Late-Stage Bladder Cancer

If you have late-stage bladder cancer that is inoperable, unresectable (cannot be completely removed), or has spread to other parts of the body, then you may qualify for the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance Program. The Compassionate Allowance Program offers faster processing for those with serious or terminal illnesses. If you qualify, you may get a decision within weeks after submitting your medical records. 

Don’t Let Your Valid Disability Claim Be Denied

More than two-thirds of those who apply for Social Security disability benefits are denied, but this does not mean that you should be discouraged from applying for the benefits that you have earned. Instead, we encourage you to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer before you file your claim. Our disability benefits attorneys can help you at every stage of the application process or during your appeal.

Learn more about applying for disability benefits in our free book, 7 Costly Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Keefe Disability Law directly to schedule your initial consultation.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer