Depending on the severity of your colon cancer and the side effects of treatment, it may be difficult or impossible to continue to work at your previous job. If you are struggling to make ends meet while also fighting your cancer, the best option to get the regular monthly income you need may be Social Security Disability for colon cancer. You may be eligible for benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), depending on your work history and financial situation.
A cancer diagnosis is never easy. Add financial stress to the equation, and it can seem almost unbearable. At Berger and Green, we offer support and guidance to help you apply for the disability benefits you need or to assist as you fight a denial of your claim. We can handle your appeal, leaving you free to focus on your health.
If you have not yet filed for benefits, we can review your application. We know what it takes to get benefits and can ensure you have the information you need on your application to give you the best chance of approval.
When Is Colon Cancer a Qualifying Impairment?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines the criteria for qualifying for disability based on a colon cancer diagnosis in Section 13.18 of the Blue Book of impairment listings. In general, you must have medical evidence that shows your cancer is metastasizing, recurrent, resistant to treatment, or will lead to your death. Specifically, your medical records will need to include lab results, treatment notes, and imaging scans that show:
- Your cancer cannot be surgically removed;
- You underwent surgery to remove your colon cancer and it returned;
- Your cancer spread beyond nearby lymph nodes; or
- You have small-cell carcinoma.
The SSA will look for medical evidence to prove you suffer from a qualifying impairment. This evidence includes:
- Colonoscopy results;
- Biopsy results;
- PET scans and other appropriate imaging;
- Surgical notes;
- Lab work; and
- Other treatment notes, including outcomes.
If you have concerns about meeting the criteria in this impairment listing, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about your claim before you apply. Your oncologist can likely help you get a better picture of how well your condition meets these criteria and whether you have the medical evidence to support a claim. She can also ensure you have all necessary tests and other documentation available.
Can I Still Get Disability Benefits If I Do Not Meet a Listing?
Even if you do not meet the impairment listing criteria to get benefits based on your colon cancer diagnosis, you may be able to qualify for disability based on the fact you are physically unable to work.
If the SSA determines you do not qualify under an impairment listing, it will evaluate your abilities and assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC) rating. There are three general ways the SSA evaluates you for this:
- An SSA disability examiner performs an evaluation based on your medical evidence;
- Your physician completes an evaluation based on an examination and your history; or
- The SSA asks a third-party physician to complete an evaluation based on an examination.
The outcome of your evaluation will describe the type of work you are able to do, how strenuous this work can be, and how often you can do it. If the results show you cannot work, the SSA will likely approve you for benefits — if you meet the technical qualifications of the program.
What Are the Technical Qualifications for Disability Benefits?
In addition to proving you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled, each program also has a number of technical qualifications you must meet to receive benefits. If you do not meet these qualifications, the SSA will issue a technical denial of your claim without considering if you qualify medically.
To get benefits from the SSDI program, you must:
- Have the required number of work credits based on your age; and
- Have an earned income that is less than the monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit.
While the SSI program has no work history requirements, all qualifying applicants must:
- Meet strict income limits, which count most types of income;
- Meet asset limits; and
- Be a U.S. citizen, national, or in a specific category of alien.
What Can I Do If the SSA Denied My Disability Application?
While we strive to give you every advantage possible, it is not unusual for the SSA to deny a seemingly well-qualified disability application. Many initial claims receive a denial. Luckily, the appeals process allows those who need benefits to request a hearing and present their case to an Administrative Law Judge.
While you could handle this process on your own, it can be difficult to know why the SSA denied your application and to navigate the process without someone who knows how it works. Working with a disability attorney can help. Our lawyers can request an appeals hearing, identify the reason behind your denial, and try to build a solid case for overturning the denial.
We represent our clients at their appeals hearings and are often successful at securing the benefits they need and deserve. If the judge overturns your denial, you will qualify for back pay to cover the time between your original application and the date your monthly payments begin.
At Berger and Green, We Will Fight for the Disability Benefits You Need for Colon Cancer.
The lawyers at Berger and Green can help you pursue the disability benefits you need to treat and recover from colon cancer. We know how to build a strong case for approval and, if the SSA already denied your claim, we can represent you during the appeals process. We can double-check your claim for mistakes and omissions before you apply. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to learn more.