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    Cancer Patients attaining Disability Benefit 

    Cancer is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. The number of new cases continues to rise year after year. Many kinds of cancer can be prevented or treated if detected early, but even with early detection, a diagnosis of cancer can wreak havoc on your life in a multitude of way. 

    A cancer prognosis depends greatly on the type that you are diagnosed with. A diagnosis of cancer can leave you severely sick, disabled, unemployed, and dependent on others for help. It can snatch away your ability to lead a normal, independent life. 

    Most people seek medical treatment, but that is not the only assistance available. The Social Security Administration may also be able to help other aspects of your life, so that you are free to focus on treatment. Cancer related disabilities are increasing year after year and is an indiscriminate disease. Cancer can be caused by anything from aging, genetics, or environmental pollutants, to lifestyle choices, poor diet, recreational drugs, and more. 

    Cancer-Patients-2Why Seek SSDI Benefits for Cancer?

    According to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately fifteen million people currently living with cancer in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing cancer is about 40 percent for both men and women. Some common diagnoses of cancer include:

    • Prostate cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Lung cancer
    • Bladder cancer
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Bladder cancer
    • Leukaemia
    • Throat cancer
    • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
    • Melanomas
    • Abdomen related cancers

    These are just some of the more severe types of cancer that cause illness but there are hundreds of others that affect millions of people each year. Many people suffering from cancer are disabled and in need of financial support.  Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a benefit available to disabled individuals who meet eligibility criteria. 

    The Social Security Administration provides several different types of benefit programs to qualifying individuals. There are several programs through SSA available to people who are aged, disabled, or unable to work.  SSDI is one such program. Cancer effects more than just your health.  A residual impacts of a cancer diagnosis can be detrimental to many aspects of your life, including income, family relations, mental health, friendships, and general quality of life. 

    Many people experience financial struggles due to prolonged medical treatment that includes surgeries, recurring doctor appointments, chemotherapy, other medications and assistive equipment. SSDI benefits can help you to recover some of your income and recoup medical expenses related to the disease. 

    What Does the SSDI Application Procedure Include?

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that provides income to people under the age of 65 who have a qualifying disability.  You may be entitled to SSDI if you meet certain criteria. To qualify for Social Security benefits from SSDI, you must have paid into the Social Security system through qualifying employment and suffer from a disabling condition. 


    The SSA applies “work credits” that are based on annual income history and your age at the time of incurring the disability. The number of work credits you are credited throughout your work history will impact your benefit entitlement. While the SSA factors in employment history, younger individuals with limited work experience might alternatively be entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), which is a separate benefit program administered by SSA. 

    For those interested in applying for SSDI, here is some of the information necessary to complete an application for benefits: 

    • Medical evidence that demonstrates the existence of the disability and its severity
    • Contact details and a signed privacy release form to obtain records from caseworkers, doctors, other medical facilities and providers where you received treatment or testing
    • Social Security Number
    • A list of disabling impairments 
    • Summary of work history 

    Any additional evidence that may substantiate your claim for benefits

    You could submit these documents to the SSA yourself and risk your application being denied, or your could work with an experienced attorney who understands the SSA process and will be able to assist with gathering and reviewing your information to ensure it meets qualifying criteria for entitlement to disability benefits. Once submitted, your application and supporting documents will be evaluated by a Disability Determination Services (DDS) examiner, whose job it is to determine whether you are eligible for benefits based on SSAs rules and regulations. 

    Social Security Disability Benefits and Remissions

    Remission is a concern for those receiving SSDI benefits related to a cancer diagnosis. The National Cancer Institute states remission can be either a reduction of symptoms or a disappearance of signs and symptoms altogether.  Remissions can be temporary or prolonged. A remission might allow a patient to return to normal activities of daily living, or it might have only a limited impact on your life. The important thing is that cancer may still return or develop in other parts of the body, or you may continue to have permanent impairment even if the underlying diagnosis is in remission.

    If approved for SSDI, the SSA will want to monitor continuing entitlement to benefits. They do so by categorizing beneficiaries into different categories based on prognosis:

    • Medical Improvement Expected (MIE) – If your impairment is expected to improve, SSA will review your continuing eligibility for disability benefits at intervals from 6 months to 18 months following the most recent benefits decision. 
    • Medical Improvement Possible (MIP) – If your disability is not considered permanent but is such that any medical improvement cannot be accurately predicted, SSA will review your continuing eligibility for disability benefits at least once every 3 years.
    • Medical Improvement Not expected (MINE) – If your disability is considered permanent, SSA will review continuing eligibility for benefits no less frequently than once every 7 years but no more frequently than once every 5 years.

    Regardless, SSA reserves the right to conduct an immediate continuing disability review if there is any question as to continued impairment.  

    SSDI for serious conditions like cancer requires careful attention to entitlement criteria governed by complex state and federal rules and regulations. From the application process and gathering supporting documentation to claim representation and appealing an adverse determination, it is of enormous help to have an attorney experienced in the process. Consider hiring an expert attorney who can assist with the entire process.


    Your Attorney

    Bill B. Berke

    Mr. Berke is an experienced attorney based in Southwest Florida. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Degree from Indiana University in 1982 and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Florida in 1985. Since 1986, he has been running his own law firm, Berke Law Firm, P.A., exclusively representing injured individuals. He is admitted to practice in various courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Berke specializes in workers' compensation, social security disability, defective drug/device litigation, employment law, and overtime claims. He is actively involved in professional associations and community organizations, advocating for the rights of employees and claimants.

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