Cervical cancer is a serious condition that can be life-altering for a woman, require intensive treatment, impact her ability to hold a job, and, in some cases, result in complete disability or death. When grappling with concerns about mortality, the last thing a woman should have to worry about is how she'll make ends meet and provide for herself and her family. However, there is help available for cervical cancer patients who are unable to work. If your cervical cancer diagnosis and resulting treatments prevent you from working, you may be entitled to receive disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, because the application process for disability can be complex, it's important to understand the agency's criteria for determining disability before submitting your application.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer affects the cells of the cervix, which is the part of the uterus connecting the uterus and vagina. The cancer occurs when healthy cervical cells undergo a mutation that turns them into abnormal cells, causing them to grow and multiply out of control. The abnormal cells can accumulate to form a tumor and, in some cases, the cancer cells break off from the tumor and spread—or metastasize—to nearby cells and other parts of the body, such as the vagina, bladder, rectum, lymph nodes, liver, or lungs.
There are two main types of cervical cancer. The first and most common type of cervical cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which starts in the thin, flat cells that line the outer part of the cervix. The second type of cervical cancer, which is known as adenocarcinoma, starts in the glandular cells that line the cervical canal. Prognosis and treatment of cervical cancer are largely determined by the type of cervical cancer you're diagnosed with.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancers affecting women, second only to breast cancer. In 2011, as many as 11,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, and approximately 4,000 women died as a result of the disease.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Doctors and medical researchers don't have a definitive explanation for what causes cervical cancers, but they are fairly confident that the human papillomavirus (also known as HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection, is a contributing factor. Lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, may also play a role.
Annual tests and screenings may reduce a woman's risk of developing cervical cancers. Vaccines that protect against HPV may also be effective for some women.
Symptoms Associated With Cervical Cancer
Patients in the early stages of cervical cancer may experience no symptoms, and this makes annual tests and screenings all the more important. Symptoms of more advanced cervical cancers can include:
- Vaginal bleeding that occurs after sexual activity, between menstrual cycles, or after menopause
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Heavy, foul-smelling bloody vaginal discharge
Applying for SS Benefits for Cervical Cancer
The SSA has a “Blue Book” listing for cervical cancer in its official Listing of Impairments. Cervical cancer patients whose cancer has spread or not responded to treatments may be eligible to receive Social Security (SS) disability. However, even patients whose cancer does not meet the Blue Book criteria may be able to obtain SS benefits if their illness has prevented them from participating in gainful employment for 12 months or longer. Having the doctor who treats your cervical cancer complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form, which discusses your diagnosis and how it affects your ability to work, is essential to securing much-needed SS benefits.
Do You Need Help Applying for SS Benefits?
If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, you may be eligible to receive SS disability benefits. However, because applying for SS can be a complex process, having an experienced disability attorney by your side can be helpful. Don't waste valuable time on costly mistakes during the application process. Contact the knowledgeable legal team at Keefe Disability Law today for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim.