If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t automatically qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that all applicants for SSDI and SSI meet the following criteria:
- An applicant must earn no more than $1,350 (2022 amount) per month from work.
- The applicant must have a severe medical condition that interferes with basic work activity.
- The disabling condition must be expected to last at least 12 months, or result in death.
When breast cancer is detected early, aggressive treatment can lead to the remission of the disease within a relatively short period of time. Many women with breast cancer do not qualify for SSDI or SSI because their condition is not expected to last more than a few months. The SSA is likely to reject any benefit claims for Stages 0, I, and II breast cancer.
The SSA does recognize that breast cancer can be a severe impairment; breast cancer is included in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. In order for an applicant to receive SSDI or SSI for breast cancer, the cancer must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The breast cancer is locally advanced and extends into the skin, the muscle, or the chest wall.
- The breast cancer involves multiple lymph nodes.
- The breast cancer includes tumors that are greater than 5 mm in diameter.
- The breast cancer is inflammatory.
- The breast cancer that has spread to at least 10 underarm lymph nodes or to lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.
- The breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- You cancer is recurrent and does not respond to treatment.
Patients with stage IV breast cancer may automatically qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance Program.
Sometimes women who are eligible for SSDI benefits for breast cancer are rejected even when they meet the qualifications for approval. These rejections are often due to inadequate documentation of the disability.
A knowledgeable Omaha disability benefits lawyer can help. Learn more in our free brochure, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim.