A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event. It brings fear to all of us and begins a chain reaction of thoughts regarding one’s future. If you’re actively employed and working when the diagnosis is received, one of the thoughts becomes: what about my future regarding the ability to work? Social Security Disability can provide options that can help you deal with this serious condition.
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recognizes cancer as a very serious limitation; it does not, however, automatically award benefits to someone when diagnosed. Rather, the approach is to take a look at the details of each individual and those details are heavily focused on the treatment the individual receives. Today’s medical community has made significant advances in the treatment of all types of cancer such that each individual’s prognosis is different. Also, it should be remembered that the prognosis can easily change over time.
Consequently, the SSA evaluation will consider “time” as part of the evaluation. While you may or may not be initially precluded from working, your work abilities may change over time as you receive treatment. Additionally, treatment and its side effects vary greatly from one individual to another. Whether the treatment is chemotherapy or radiation therapy or surgery, etc., the SSA will look at how your treatment is affecting your ability to function which obviously affects your ability to work.
Keeping in mind that the overall disability process often takes well over a year, you may consider applying early when you first receive a diagnosis. On the other hand, you might decide to wait a bit to see how the treatment affects you. You will probably discuss work options with your doctor and you may also seek the advice of an experienced social security disability advocate. Just keep in mind however that cancer affects all of us differently and though the SSA considers it very carefully, it does not mean that your ability to work is automatically over such that you are “disabled”. Once again, medical advancements are helping patients to achieve much more now than in years past.
Michael A. LeBoeuf, Associate Attorney
Peter J. Lemoine & Associates