pDistraughtManOnSteps_9366984_mClaiming benefits with an Illinois SSD attorney

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2015. As any Illinois SSD attorney knows, people diagnosed with the disease may face numerous adverse symptoms and health complications. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be available to cancer victims. The Social Security Administration automatically considers some cancers disabling. Other cases may qualify for benefits based on the functional limitations the victim experiences.

Automatic disability determination

A diagnosis of certain cancers is enough to meet the SSA’s medical criteria. For example, inflammatory breast cancer and cancer of the pancreas are automatically considered disabling. However, most cancers must have specific characteristics, such as inoperability or metastasis, to qualify as disabling. For evidence, the SSA typically requires a diagnosis supported with clinical findings, symptoms and statements from medical professionals.

The SSA outlines the medical criteria different types of cancer must meet in the “Blue Book” of impairments. The SSA also identifies cancers that merit expedited claim processing in the list of Compassionate Allowances conditions. Every condition on this list is generally severe enough to warrant benefits. Thus, the SSA requires minimal objective evidence in claims involving these conditions.

In addition to meeting medical criteria, applicants seeking SSD benefits for cancer must meet financial requirements. Applicants cannot perform work with monthly income over $1,090. Applicants also must qualify as insured based on past earnings. People who fail to meet these criteria cannot receive benefits, regardless of how disabling their conditions are.

Medical-vocational allowances

If cancer is not considered disabling under the Blue Book, a victim may still qualify for benefits. As any Illinois SSD attorney understands, the SSA may award medical-vocational allowances if cancer prevents victims from working gainfully. To determine whether cancer precludes gainful employment, the SSA considers the following factors:

  • Age — the SSA recognizes that older claimants may have trouble learning new skills or changing work.
  • Education — the SSA acknowledges that claimants with lower educational levels may have fewer job opportunities.
  • Work-related skills — the SSA uses work experience and skills to evaluate the work a claimant can perform.
  • Residual functional capacity — the SSA also considers the functional limitations the cancer causes.

The effects of chemotherapy or other treatments are additionally factored into RFC. The SSA may consider immediate symptoms and potential long-term effects, such as cognitive impairment.

For people seeking medical-vocational allowances, proper documentation of functional limitations is essential, as any Illinois SSD attorney can attest. Applicants can ask a physician to complete an RFC assessment form. Applicants can also request statements from non-medical sources, such as co-workers or friends. These sources can complement objective evidence by providing insights into the symptoms and limitations the applicant experiences.