October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Disability
Breast Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States and currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer at some point in her life is roughly 12%.
As a cancer that almost always requires some form of surgery and/or radiation, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – whether for a short period of time to allow them to treat and get back on their feet, or indefinitely.
Women diagnosed with breast cancer typically take an average of six months off from work during the year after her diagnosis, while women who receive chemotherapy tend to take more than nine months off. In addition, one full year after being cancer free, more than three-fourths of survivors were absent from work four weeks or more per year – absences many employers would not tolerate.
Social Security listing 13.10 covers breast cancer and allows patients who have been diagnosed to apply for – and possibly receive – benefits if their condition will cause them to be unable to engage in a substantial gainful activity for twelve months or more.
In order to receive benefits under Listing 13.10, the patient must have one of the following:
- Locally advanced cancer
- Carcinoma with metastases to the supraclavicular or infraclavicular nodes, to ten or more axillary nodes, or with distant metastases;
- Recurrent carcinoma, except local recurrence that remits with anticancer therapy;
- Small cell carcinoma; or
- With secondary lymphedema that is caused by anticancer therapy and treated by surgery to salvage or restore the functioning of an upper extremity.
If you do not have one of the aforementioned diagnoses, it does not mean you will not qualify for benefits. Instead, what will happen is the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess the totality of your situation and determine whether or not you are able to engage in the substantial gainful activity.