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How does cancer undergo evaluation for disability benefits?

In the U.S., if you have a disability, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. To qualify, you cannot engage in substantial gainful activity because of a medical or mental impairment that lasts for at least 12 months.

Cancer is one of the conditions that may keep you from working.

How does the SSA evaluate cancer?

To evaluate cancer, the Social Security Administration considers the following factors:

  • Cancer origins
  • Involvement extent
  • Length of time, frequency and effects of anticancer therapy
  • Post-therapeutic effects

The SSA has different criteria to apply to specific cancers. It requires medical evidence to the type of cancer, the extent of the cancer and the site of the primary metastatic lesion. You also have to include the operative note and pathology report for operative procedures. For persistent and recurrent cancers, you should provide medical reports indicating the recurrence and response to treatment.

Anticancer therapy effects vary widely from patient to patient. To help with the evaluation, the SSA requires the following information:

  • Drug type and dosage
  • Frequency and length of time for drug administration
  • Extent of any surgeries
  • Fields and schedule of radiation therapy

Sometimes, the effects change during treatment, and they may be temporary. The SSA needs time to evaluate these to conclude whether you cannot engage in gainful activity for 12 months.

What are Compassionate Allowances?

The SSA uses Compassionate Allowances to quickly identify more serious diseases and medical conditions that meet the standards for benefits. Among these conditions are certain types of cancers. Technology assists in identifying these conditions and speeding up the application process.