Pancreatic cancer is a particularly aggressive type of cancer that often results in complete disability or death. People who are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas are usually unable to work, which can cause them to worry about providing for their family and making ends meet. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the seriousness of this disease and often expedites the approval of monthly monetary payments to pancreatic cancer patients who apply for Social Security (SS) disability benefits. Understanding the SS application process, as well as which types of pancreatic cancer qualify for quick approval, can help should you need SS benefits.
What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
Cancer of the pancreas occurs when a malignant tumor(s) grows in the cells of the pancreas. Located just behind the stomach, the pancreas is an organ that produces enzymes to help the body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. It also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon, which regulate blood sugar. Cancer disrupts the pancreas's natural processes and prevents it from working properly.
There are two distinct types of pancreatic cancer. Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, which affects the exocrine cells, is the most common and most serious type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for approximately 95 percent of malignant pancreatic tumors. Considered more rare, the second type of pancreatic cancer—pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma, also known as islet cell tumors—affects the endocrine glands that secrete hormones such as insulin.
These types of cancers are usually not discovered until the later stages, after the cancer has spread, making surgical removal of the tumors impossible in more than 80 percent of cases. While some doctors may recommend radiation therapy and chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancers, these treatments are ineffective in the vast majority of cases, and 95 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer do not live more than five years after diagnosis. Most pass away in just four to six months.
What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?
Doctors haven't identified a definitive cause for pancreatic cancers. However, certain risk factors are thought to play a role in the development of these diseases. These factors include:
Symptoms Associated With Pancreatic Cancer
In most cases, patients with pancreatic cancer do not display symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly, and this has earned these cancers a reputation as “silent killers.” Common symptoms associated with advanced pancreatic cancers include:
- Stomach or back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
Applying for Social Security Benefits for Pancreatic Cancer
Due to the serious and aggressive nature of pancreatic cancers, patients are often eligible for a Compassionate Allowance from the SSA. This means for most cases, the agency will expedite the processing and approval of SS applications, allowing you to receive benefits more quickly.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas is usually not eligible for Compassionate Allowances; however, patients may still qualify for SS benefits if their condition negatively impacts their ability to work. The doctor who treats your pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas can complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form detailing your diagnosis and outlining its impact on your ability to engage in gainful employment.
We Can Help
When you've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, every second counts. Don't waste time trying to figure out the SSA's complex SS application system when you can work with an experienced disability attorney who knows the process and may be able to further expedite the approval of your application. Contact the legal team at Keefe Disability Law for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case, or request a free copy of the book, Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim.