In today’s world breast cancer has become increasingly common, especially in young women. Early detection is key. With the help of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, breast cancer awareness and fundraising have reached an all-time high. Which in return means an increased push toward breast cancer research along with providing breast cancer screenings.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, depending upon the stage will depend upon the extent of treatment you will need. Generally, the more advanced the stage the more aggressive your treatments will be. Most breast cancer treatment includes some form of chemotherapy and/or surgery. Both treatments have a major effect on your body and require a significant amount of recovery time. It is not likely you will be able to work during the time you are receiving treatments.
What are your options if you cannot work during treatment?
Well if you’ve worked the past 5 out of 10 years and paid FICA taxes you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments. The SSD program is meant to provide a safety net for individuals who are suffering from a severe physical and/or mental condition that is preventing them from working. The No. 1 question when determining if your breast cancer diagnosis will qualify you for SSD benefits is whether your recovery and treatment period will prevent you from working for at least 12 months. That’s where the severity of your diagnosis comes into play. If your doctor expects you to be out of work for at least 12 months then you are probably a good candidate for SSD benefits.
There are three different ways you could qualify for SSD benefits based on your breast cancer condition:
- Your condition could qualify as a compassionate allowance. Compassionate Allowances are conditions for which Social Security has deemed so severe as to require expedited handling and approval. In terms of breast cancer, to be a compassionate allowance you must have been diagnosed with having distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable condition. Stage IV cancer generally will qualify as a compassionate allowance.
- If your condition is not a compassionate allowance the next step would be to see if you meet a disability listing. The disability listings are conditions that with enough medical evidence will automatically qualify you for benefits. This is similar to the compassionate allowances but usually not as severe and they are not expedited.
- If you don’t meet a listing then SSA considers your residual functional capacity (RFC). To determine your RFC we consider your exertional and non-exertional limitations as they relate to your condition. Typically, the treatment from breast cancer can cause significant pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, memory loss, and nausea. These limitations play a significant role in your ability to perform your past work along with any other types of jobs.
The bottom line, if you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer you will most likely not be able to work. Instead of struggling financially without an income, you should consider applying for SSD benefits. Call an experienced Social Security disability attorney and ask for your options. Initial consultations are generally free, so there is certainly no harm in trying.