Qualifying for Disability With Breast Cancer

If you or someone you love has breast cancer, you may be eligible for financial aid. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly resources for people with serious disabilities that prevents them from working. While breast cancer will not automatically qualify, many women with advanced or aggressive cancer will be eligible for monthly support.


Medically Qualifying With Breast Cancer

The SSA uses its own medical guide, known colloquially as the Blue Book, to determine if an applicant is “disabled enough” to qualify for disability benefits. Under the Blue Book, there are a few ways to qualify with breast cancer:

  1. Your cancer has spread beyond 10 regional nodes, such as to another organ
  2. You have Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
  3. Your cancer returned despite at least one round of anticancer therapy
  4. Your cancer is inoperable or untreatable
  5. Your cancer had secondary lymphedema requiring surgery, which limited or eliminated the use of one arm


Typically, only women with cancer at Stage III-B or beyond will qualify. An exception to this rule would be if you can prove that you’ll be undergoing at least one year’s worth of treatment that will prevent you from working and earning at least $1,180 per month, you could still qualify. Typically women with physically-demanding jobs will have an easier time qualifying at a lower stage, as they may not be able to maintain strenuous employment during breast cancer treatments.


Starting Your Application

The easiest place to apply for Social Security disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. You can apply from the convenience of your own home, and you can also save your progress for another time if you’re unable to finish the application at once. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person at your closest Social Security office. You can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.


Facing a Denial

Unfortunately, more than 65% of all Social Security disability claims are denied. The denial rate is lower for breast cancer claimants, but there’s still a good chance your initial application will be denied for various reasons. When you’re faced with a denial letter the SSA will state two reasons for a denial—medical or technical.

A technical denial usually means you didn’t work enough or your household income is too high. If this is the case, unfortunately it’s not worthwhile to pursue the claim further. If you’ve been denied due to medical reasons, you should always pursue the claim! It’s possible the SSA didn’t reach out to all of your oncologists regarding your case. It’s also possible that you’ll have a better chance of approval if your condition worsened since you first applied.

Most initial claims will be reviewed within a couple of months. Once approved, you can focus on what’s important: your health.


Helpful Links:

SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov/

SSA’s Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

Qualifying with Breast Cancer: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/breast-cancer

Closest SSA Office: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/social-security-disability-resources

SSA’s Online Application: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib

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