The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not list radiation exposure itself as a qualifying impairment for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, many exposure-related issues that affect your ability to work may qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
If you cannot work because of the effects of radiation exposure, the Pittsburgh attorneys at Berger and Green can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a time to discuss your situation, look over your prepared claim, or begin the appeals process after a denied claim. Our attorneys can help you get disability for radiation exposure.
How can I qualify for SSD benefits after radiation exposure?
Radiation exposure can cause a variety of serious health concerns, many of which could lead to a disability. The SSA lists criteria for each condition that determine whether or not it qualifies as disabling. Two of the most common side effects of radiation exposure that the SSA may consider disabling are burns and cancer.
The SSA lists specific criteria for burns to qualify for benefits. In order for your burns to qualify, you need to show you have burns to a limb, the trunk of your body, your face, or your head that limits a major function of the area. You must be undergoing treatment for these burns and your doctor should not expect you to regain function within 12 months.
The SSA also lists qualifying criteria for cancer. They evaluate each applicant based on:
- Where the cancer began;
- How much it spread;
- Your treatment and response to treatment; and
- The lasting effects of your treatment.
While the specifics differ by the type of cancer, you can generally qualify under these impairment listings if your cancer:
- Spreads to other distant parts of your body;
- Comes back after treatment or treatment fails; or
- Is terminal in nature.
You may also qualify for SSD benefits if you cannot work due to lasting effects of treatment for your radiation-induced cancer. In some cases, applicants can qualify even if they do not meet the criteria in the impairment listings. This requires proving through medical evidence that you are not able to work because of specific limitations brought about by your condition.
Contact our disability lawyers today if you need help determining if your radiation-induced side effects may qualify you for disability benefits from the SSA.
How can I prove my medical condition qualifies for benefits?
Your medical records play a key role in whether or not your disability application gains approval. Without the proper documentation, the SSA will deny your claim and you will need our help navigating the appeals process.
At Berger and Green, we can review your claim before you apply. We can talk to you about your medical proof and other evidence and ensure you have everything in order. While this does not guarantee you will receive approval, it is a great way to determine the strength of your application.
We will pay careful attention to the same details the SSA considers when deciding on a claim. For example, if you have cancer, you can expect to submit:
- Imaging and pathology reports showing the location, extent, and type or cancer, as well as any areas where it spread;
- Operative notes and pathology reports from operations, biopsies, and other procedures to identify or remove cancerous cells;
- Summaries of hospitalizations and procedures;
- Any documentation showing response to therapy;
- Any imaging scans showing recurrence or progression; and
- Medical notes about any limiting effects of treatment.
Providing the right medical documentation is even more important if you do not meet one of the impairment listings. To qualify outside of these listings, you need your medical records to prove your limitations prevent you from working. The SSA may also request you see a specific doctor for an exam to determine your limitations.
Can I qualify for SSD if I receive other benefits because of my radiation exposure?
The U.S. government offers several types of benefits for people who suffer from lasting effects of radiation exposure. For the most part, these should not affect your ability to qualify for SSD payments. For example, the SSA does not count benefits from Radiation Exposure Compensation Act toward your income or consider it a public disability benefit, so they will not reduce your disability payout.
We can help you determine which benefits you may qualify for. If your exposure occurred during your military service, we can also help you determine if you qualify for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
What if the SSA denies my claim?
Unless you complete the application properly and submit all the documentation to satisfy the SSA’s high standards, you may receive a denial letter in response to your initial application. In fact, we sometimes see clients who received a denial because their doctors used the wrong form or made another simple mistake.
The first thing to remember if the SSA denies your claim is to remain calm. This happens to many applicants who later receive approval for benefits. There is a time limit on the appeals process, though, so it is important to call us right away. We have 60 days to request a hearing and prepare any additional documentation for your claim.
During the hearing, we can present the additional evidence to bolster your application and ask an administrative law judge to approve your claim. We find this is usually effective for qualified applicants, although we can continue through the appeals process if necessary.
How can I reach Berger and Green about my disability claim for radiation exposure?
The disability lawyers at Berger and Green are here to help you get the benefits you deserve. You can reach our Pittsburgh office at 412-661-1400. Call us today to schedule a time to discuss the effects of your radiation exposure and your disability claim.