Social Security Disability Eligibility for Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer Paperwork With a Blue RibbonColorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States. As such, colorectal cancer may affect us or someone we love. While treatment is available, some people with colon or rectal cancer are unable to work for more than a year, and some people die from this disease.

While you pursue medical treatment, you should also protect your right to receive the Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned.

Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability?

You may be unable to work either because of cancer or because of your cancer treatment, and you may be eligible for Social Security disability if:

  • You can’t work because of your condition. In other words, you cannot earn more than a certain amount a month. If you earn over this amount, then the Social Security Administration will consider you engaged in substantial gainful activity and deny your application. The monthly amount changes annually, and in 2020 it was set at $1,260 for non-blind applicants and $2,110 for blind applicants.
  • You are permanently disabled. According to the Social Security Administration, this means that your condition is expected to keep you from working for at least 12 months or is fatal.
  • You have worked long enough to qualify for benefits. The number of quarters that you must work to get benefits depends on your age.

One way to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is to prove that you meet the requirements in Section 13.18 of the Listing of Impairments. Section 13.18 provides eligibility if you have cancer of the large intestine and you have one of the following:

  • Adenocarcinoma that is inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the anus, recurrent after surgery
  • Cancer of the large intestine with metastases beyond the regional lymph nodes
  • Small-cell (also known as oat cell) carcinoma

Even if none of these things are true, however, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you can prove that your medical condition is equal in severity to Section 13.18 or any other section in the listing of impairments.

If your condition is not included in the Listing of Impairments and is not medically equal to a listing, then the Social Security Administration will consider your ability (residual functional capacity) to work (or engage in substantial gainful activity).

How to Prove Your Social Security Disability Colon Cancer Claim

When evaluating your claim, the Social Security Administration is going to consider the origin of your cancer, how far your cancer has spread, the duration and frequency of your cancer treatment, how you respond to cancer treatment, and the residual effects of your treatment.

You will need medical evidence to support your claim. This may include:

  • Evidence that identifies the type, extent, and site of your cancer
  • Operative notes
  • Pathology reports
  • Summary of hospitalizations
  • Specific treatment plans including the names of the drugs given, drug dosage, drug frequency, the extent of surgery, and schedule and fields of radiation therapy
  • Detailed descriptions of treatment adverse effects, including but not limited to gastrointestinal problems, weakness, neurological complications, cardiovascular problems, and reactive mental disorders.

If you claim that your colon cancer treatment, rather than cancer itself, caused your disability, then you will need to convince the Social Security Administration that the treatment effects were not temporary and instead impact your ability to work for at least 12 months.

Whether you apply for benefits based on your colon cancer or colon cancer treatment disability, you will be asked for information about your education, employment history, and more.

Presenting the right evidence and completing your Social Security disability application honestly and completely can improve your chances of having your application approved. Let us help you get the benefits that you’ve earned so that you can concentrate on your health, your family, and your interests. Call our disability lawyers today or start a live chat with us anytime for more information about your eligibility and the application process.

 

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