Do You Qualify for Lymphoma Disability Benefits?
If you have been diagnosed with lymphoma, you may be fighting for your life – and you may be unable to work to provide the money you need for treatment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) blue book listing defines lymphoma as a disability, which means you may qualify for lymphoma disability benefits if you have this diagnosis.
A simple diagnosis may not be enough to secure benefits, however. You must be able to prove to the SSA that your lymphoma meets certain criteria.
Can I Get Disability Benefits for Lymphoma?
There are two general types of lymphoma recognized as disabilities by the SSA: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s disease. Non-Hodgkin’s disease is by far the most prevalent form of the cancer. It usually affects middle-aged individuals, and it may be difficult to treat. Hodgkin’s lymphoma tends to respond better to treatment. However, both types of cancer affect the lymphatic system.
You may qualify for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma disability benefits if you’ve been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s disease and one of the following:
- Indolent lymphoma that necessitates at least two rounds of radiation or chemotherapy in the year.
- Aggressive lymphoma that doesn’t respond to the first round of radiation or chemotherapy.
You may also qualify for Hodgkin’s lymphoma disability benefits if your lymphoma returns or does not go into remission after one year of finishing radiation or chemotherapy. If you have had a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant as part of your treatment, you may automatically qualify for benefits for a year.
The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) Program
There are certain types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s disease that are especially devastating. For example, there is an aggressive form of B-cell lymphoma known as mantle cell lymphoma. It usually affects older men who are in their 50s or older. This form of cancer usually comes with a poor prognosis and low survival rate. Another aggressive form of cancer is T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. This leukemia-like disease usually spreads very quickly.
The SSA recognizes that these forms of cancer are especially difficult and lists them under the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. When you apply for mantle cell lymphoma disability benefits, T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma disability benefits and other eligible benefits under CAL, your application is processed more quickly and the requirements are less strict. Acceptance of your application isn’t guaranteed, but claimants are automatically approved in many cases.
Denied Disability for Lymphoma?
There are many reasons why someone might be denied benefits. If you cannot prove you have had a stem cell or bone marrow transplantation or meet other listing requirements, you will need to establish your condition keeps you from working or performing everyday tasks, and this can be challenging. To prove your disability benefits eligibility if you have lymphoma, you must show the condition is progressive or seriously harms your ability to work. You must also provide adequate medical and work-related evidence. This may mean establishing a medical and work history, submitting medical records, biopsies and other documentation.
If you have been denied disability for lymphoma, consider whether you have submitted enough unbiased medical documentation to prove your eligibility. If you have been denied benefits but feel you should qualify for disability benefits, contact a disability or lymphoma attorney. An attorney can help you subpoena medical records, can recommend medical tests to establish your eligibility and can take additional steps to prove you meet requirements for disability benefits. If you would like to speak to a disability attorney today, contact the office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a consultation.
Proving Lymphoma Disability Eligibility
To prove your eligibility for disability benefits, you need medical evidence from a doctor. It is recommended an oncologist familiar with your case writes a letter outlining it to Social Security. This letter should describe the cancer, explain how advanced it is, outline where it has spread in the body and review the nature of it. In addition to this letter, provide biopsy results, MRI reports, CT scans, hospital records, medical reports, lab reports, detailed descriptions of treatments, detailed listings of side effects and any other medical evidence that proves your lymphoma either meets the listing requirement for lymphoma or severely impacts your ability to work.
If your condition is not progressive and not getting worse and does not meet Social Security listing requirements, it may be more challenging to prove eligibility, and you should be prepared to provide more medical evidence. You can ask your doctor to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. Your doctor should submit the assessment to Social Security.
The RFC can establish whether any of your symptoms affect your ability to work. For example, if you have had lymph nodes removed as part of your treatment and have experienced swelling and pain that limits mobility, an RFC can outline everything and describe how much these symptoms affect daily function and your ability to work. If you have symptoms such as significant fatigue or any symptoms that restrict your work ability, provide as much medical evidence of these symptoms as possible. To be considered, this documented medical evidence must come from objective medical professionals or unbiased medical sources. If you have had a stem cell or bone marrow transplantation or meet other listing requirements, provide strong medical documentation of this to qualify for disability benefits.
Other Disability Benefits for Lymphoma
Even if your lymphoma doesn’t qualify for Social Security Disability benefits outright, you may still be able to apply for benefits if your lymphoma prevents you from working. You may need to undergo a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, so a disability examiner can review your medical records and determine how the cancer affects your ability to do your job.
Dealing with a lymphoma diagnosis is stressful enough — don’t allow disability application delays and denials to add financial stress to your situation. Speak with the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco today to find out how legal advice and representation may help you in securing lymphoma disability benefits. Our team works on behalf of clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware to maximize their disability benefits and help them through the application process.