Cancer Patients in Massachusetts Shouldn't Stop Fighting for SSDI Benefits After a Denial

A cancer diagnosis is frightening, even under the best circumstances. Even if your prognosis is good, you may face chemotherapy, radiation, extensive surgeries, and numerous medications—not to mention physical and emotional exhaustion. The last thing you want to think about is how you're going to cope with the financial fallout of the diagnosis. Cancer Diagnosis Folder and StethoscopeUnfortunately, worries about medical bills and lost income often invade your thoughts almost as often as concerns about your health.

You may feel discouraged if the Social Security Administration (SSA) has denied your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application after a cancer diagnosis. But the vast majority of people applying for SSDI are rejected the first time around. The good news is that you have another shot at having your application approved on appeal.

If you've been rejected for SSDI after a cancer diagnosis, here's what you need to know.

How to Meet the SSA Criteria for Cancer

SSDI are benefits intended for people whose health conditions have made it impossible for them to work. The SSA determines whether you're eligible for SSDI by comparing your medical condition with the corresponding criteria for severity listed in the SSA "Blue Book." Because there is a wide range of cancers, you must ensure that your symptoms correspond to the Blue Book criteria for that specific type of cancer. The various types of cancer are found in Section 13.0 of the Blue Book.

Although every cancer experience is different, specific situations almost always get SSDI approval.

When You May Automatically Qualify for Benefits

  • An esophageal or pancreatic cancer diagnosis
  • When the cancer is inoperable or has returned despite treatment
  • The cancer has spread to other body parts

However, even under these circumstances, you must ensure that you have not made any mistakes or omissions in your application.

It's not unusual for the SSA to deny an application for SSDI benefits for cancer, so don't be discouraged and don't give up!

Common Reasons for SSDI Application Denials

  • Failure to provide specific medical evidence documenting a cancer diagnosis.
  • Failure to prove that you meet the Blue Book criteria for your specific cancer diagnosis.
  • Failure to provide adequate medical evidence showing you're unable to work. The SSA needs to have an assessment provided by your health care provider stating that your cancer symptoms or treatment-related conditions make it too difficult or impossible for you to earn an income in any capacity.

How to Improve Your Chances of Successfully Appealing the SSDI Denial Decision in Massachusetts

The most critical step you can take to improve your chances of winning the benefits on appeal is determining the precise reason your application was denied. If the cause is unclear or you have questions about the SSA's reasoning, you should consult an experienced Social Security disability lawyer without delay. Your lawyer can help you assess the information that may have been missing from your initial application and ensure that it is included in your file for the appeal.

For example, you may not have provided enough evidence showing how your cancer treatment has triggered a "brain fog" or memory difficulties that make it impossible to complete your work tasks. Or you might need to show how a surgery has made it nearly impossible to sit for extended periods. Whatever your situation, you will need to collect comprehensive medical documentation of how your condition affects your ability to work and submit it in your file on appeal.

You may also improve your chances on appeal by keeping a disability journal. A disability journal is a diary that describes how your cancer-related disability affects your life daily. The journal can help bolster your medical records and statements from your health care providers about your impairment and help the administrative judge law better understand your reality.

How a Massachusetts SSDI Lawyer Can Help

Having a Massachusetts SSDI lawyer help with your appeal may make a significant difference in the strength of your case. An experienced lawyer will know the kind of evidence that will help the SSA see that your situation meets the Blue Book list of criteria. Your attorney can also help ensure that you receive the right type of proof from the right health care providers. 

There's no doubt that your chance of receiving benefits increases when working with a skilled lawyer during the appeal process. If you would like to speak with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, please online contact form or call directly at 508-283-5500 to schedule your free consultation, as soon as possible.

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 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


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