If you suffer from an illness that requires you to undergo a stem cell transplant, you might be eligible to receive disability benefits to help you make ends meet. Depending on your financial situation, you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The disability lawyers from Berger and Green understand how to get Social Security Disability for stem cell transplantation. We can try to help you get the monthly benefits you need. We can review your application before you file it, or help you appeal a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Give our Pittsburgh office a call today at 412-661-1400 to get started.
Qualifying for Benefits Based on the Impairment Listing for Stem Cell Transplants
The SSA publishes a list of qualifying impairments and the criteria you must meet based on your diagnosis. This list is called the Blue Book. The entry related to stem cell transplants is under Section 7.17.
According to this impairment listing, you can get benefits for 12 months after your transplant date, and then the SSA will re-evaluate your case. You might continue to qualify for benefits if you have any residual effects or new impairments because of your underlying condition or your transplant. If you suffer from any of the following, you might qualify for continuing payments:
- Issues with other organ systems; or
- Chronic infections; or
- Graft-versus-host disease.
It is also important to note that the SSA might establish an earlier onset date than the date of your transplant, depending on the severity of your underlying condition. For this to apply to your case, you would need to show the SSA that you meet another impairment listing, or that you could not work prior to your transplant. Some conditions that might require a stem cell transplant also qualify for a compassionate allowance, meaning you might be able to get benefits sooner. If you suffer from leukemia or another life-threatening condition, you might qualify for quicker benefits.
We recommend discussing your need for benefits with your doctor. Your medical records will play a key role in proving your need for benefits, and your doctor can ensure you have all the necessary evidence to meet the SSA’s qualification criteria.
Getting Disability If You Do Not Meet the Blue Book Listing for a Stem Cell Transplant
In some cases, you might not meet the impairment listing before you undergo your stem cell transplant or after the initial 12-month period. If this is true in your case, but you still cannot return to work, you might be able to get approved based on your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).
Your RFC is an evaluation of your ability to work. It determines:
- The types of tasks you can do; and
- How often you can do these tasks; and
- How long you can do these tasks.
If you cannot work at your last job, or at any other job you might be eligible to get, you could qualify to receive SSDI or SSI.
There are three ways the person tasked with evaluating your application can get your RFC. They can:
- Evaluate you based on your application materials and your medical records; or
- Ask your doctor to evaluate you; or
- Ask you to see an independent doctor for an exam.
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Meeting the Technical Qualifications for Disability Benefits
Even if your medical records provide the evidence to qualify you for benefits, you may receive a denial if there is another issue with your application. Before the local Social Security field office forwards your application on to the next step in the process, it checks to make sure you meet all the technical qualifications of the disability program. Otherwise, you could receive a technical denial. The most common reasons we see clients get a technical denial include:
- Skipping a question or failing to complete the application; or
- Entering incorrect information; or
- A name or birthdate that does not match the Social Security Number; or
- Not having enough work credits to satisfy the requirements for SSDI; or
- Not meeting income or asset limits to meet the requirements for SSI.
We can help you apply and avoid some of these mistakes. If you receive a letter indicating the SSA denied your claim early on in the process, we can help you understand what happened. We will walk with you through the disability appeals process to try to get the benefits you need.
Berger and Green Can Help You Manage Your Appeal
Most people who apply for disability receive a denial letter from the SSA. If this happens to you, you will receive a letter in the mail telling you the SSA does not approve you for benefits.
The most important thing to remember at this point is that you are not alone. Many people must go through this process before they eventually get the benefits they needed. It is essential not to delay your appeal, however; you only have 60 days from the date of your denial letter to request an appeals hearing.
We recommend giving us a call during this period and letting us handle this process for you. If you let us take care of your appeal, we can:
- Request your appeals hearing; and
- Help you understand why the SSA denied your claim; and
- Explain what you can expect when we see the Administrative Law Judge; and
- Build a strong case for benefits based on your condition; and
- Represent you to the Administrative Law Judge and present the case we built on your behalf at your appeals hearing; and
- Fight for the back benefits you deserve.
While we can often help our clients get benefits after their appeals hearing, if this is not possible in your case, we can continue to fight. There are other steps we can take that might be able to help you get the benefits you need after a stem cell transplant.
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Talk to a Member of the Berger and Green Team About Disability for a Stem Cell Transplant in Pittsburgh
Berger and Green’s disability team understands how stressful it can be if your stem cell transplant procedure prevents you from working and earning a living. We will review your disability application before you file it, or help you fight for benefits if you already received a denial notice. If any of your impairments began because of injuries you sustained in a negligence accident, we might be able to help you hold the at-fault party liable for your damages, too.
Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 to get started.