Can I get Social Security disability if chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer make it hard for me to work?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies disability benefits to many breast cancer patients because they only include medical proof of their diagnosis with their applications. The medical disability requirements of the SSA’s breast cancer listing say that you must be diagnosed at an advanced stage to qualify, which leaves many early-stage breast cancer patients without benefits.

However, there is another way for breast cancer patients to qualify for Social Security disability. Although you may be able to work despite having cancer, the cancer treatment is a different story. If you can show that you are significantly disabled by your treatments, the SSA may grant your benefit request.

How Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Can Qualify You for Disability Payments

You will have to provide details of your breast cancer treatments, including frequency and length of infusions, as well as how you feel afterward and how long your symptoms persist. The SSA uses this information to assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC), a rating of how limited you are when doing any type of work. If you cannot perform a basic level of employment while undergoing treatment, you will likely be granted disability payments.

Here are just a few ways your treatments could qualify you for benefits:

  • Pain. If you have recently undergone a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or other surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha or another medical facility, you will likely be in considerable pain for an extended period. As a result, you may only be able to do sedentary work and may have limitations on how much you can lift or carry.
  • Side effects. Breast cancer patients may undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of treatments that can be incredibly taxing on the body. Common side effects include pain, fatigue, nausea, memory loss, headaches, weakness, and other problems that can make it difficult to work.
  • Medical-vocational allowance. Some patients may only be able to do sedentary work, but such work is not an option without a consider amount of accomodations. In these cases, patients may be granted benefits under a medical-vocational allowance.

Do you need more information on getting your application approved? Click the link on this page to order our free informational guide, The Five Deadly Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Social Security Disability Case, or email us at [email protected].

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska