A brain tumor can cause countless debilitating effects, whether it is malignant or benign, as any Social Security lawyer understands. Tumors press on the brain, producing symptoms such as headaches, confusion, speech problems, ambulatory issues, personality changes or memory loss. Chicago residents who struggle to work or handle daily tasks because of these symptoms may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. People who rely on brain tumor treatments associated with severe side effects, such as radiation therapy, may also be eligible for benefits.

Means of qualifying

A brain tumor can be evaluated under one of several listings in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” of disabling conditions. The relevant listing depends on the nature of the tumor and the side effects it causes. These listings include:

  • Neoplastic diseases — highly malignant and recurrent brain tumors may qualify under this listing.
  • Petit or grand mal epilepsy — brain tumors that cause epilepsy can be evaluated under these listings.
  • Central nervous system vascular accident — tumors resulting in stroke can be considered under this listing.

If a brain tumor causes hearing loss, speech impairments or mental disorders, it may be evaluated under those listings.

If a brain tumor does not meet any listing requirements, the Social Security Administration may determine that the tumor “equals” a listing. The applicant must show the symptoms associated with the tumor are equal in severity to those implied in the listing. If an applicant does not meet or equal a listing, the applicant may qualify for a medical-vocational allowance. The applicant must prove gainful employment is not reasonable by documenting the impairments associated with the tumor, its treatment or other personal medical conditions.

Supporting the claim

Applicants should support their claims with as much medical evidence as possible. The existence and nature of the tumor should be established through biopsy reports, radiology reports and notes from treating physicians.

People who intend to qualify for benefits by meeting a Blue Book listing should consult the book to ensure they have shown they meet every listing requirement. People who do not meet the Blue Book criteria should document any symptoms that impede gainful employment. For instance, symptoms such as dizziness, partial paralysis or memory problems could prevent a person from working in a physical or sedentary job.

Certain types of brain tumor, such as glioblastoma multiforme, may qualify for expedited processing through the Compassionate Allowances program. The SSA requires minimal objective evidence to support claims involving Compassionate Allowances conditions, which typically qualify for SSD benefits. Applicants must specify in their claims if they are seeking benefits for a Compassionate Allowances condition. Thus, applicants should read through the Compassionate Allowances list before applying for benefits.