Social Security Disability Benefits for Sarcoma
When an individual is diagnosed with sarcoma, it is usually after the cancer has progressed beyond a point where it can be effectively treated. Those who have sarcoma and those who are undergoing treatment for the condition often find it is impossible to maintain full-time work activity. Parents of children who are diagnosed with the condition often find themselves facing significant financial strain. Fortunately, in many cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help alleviate some of the financial strain that is associated with a diagnosis of sarcoma.
The Different Types of Sarcomas that Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
There are many different sub-types of sarcoma, as the tumors can develop in any part of the body that has connective tissue. When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will compare your condition to a listing of conditions that have been included in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book lists all of the conditions that may qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits along with the criteria that must be met in order to qualify under each listing. There are a number of sarcomas included in the SSA Blue Book including:
Soft Tissue Sarcoma – Section 13.04 of the Blue Book
According to this Blue Book listing, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have been diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma and can prove that:
- There is regional metastases; or
- There is distant metastases; or
- The cancer is persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy.
Skeletal System Sarcoma – Section 13.11 of the Blue Book
According to this Blue Book listing, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have been diagnosed with a form of skeletal system sarcoma and can prove that:
- The cancer is inoperable or unresectable; or
- The tumor is recurrent (except for local recurrence) after initial antineoplastic therapy; or
- There has been distant metastases.
Sarcoma of the Female Genital Tract – Section 13.24 of the Blue Book
According to this Blue Book listing, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have been diagnosed with sarcoma in the female genital tract if you can prove that:
- The cancer is in your uterus and has invaded adjoining organs with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes and that the cancer is persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy; or
- The cancer has developed in your uterine cervix and extends to the pelvic wall, lower portion of the vagina, or adjacent or distant organs and is persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy; or
- The cancer has developed in the vulva or vagina and has invaded adjoining organs with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes and that the cancer is persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy; or
- The cancer has developed in the fallopian tubes and extends to the serosa or beyond and is persistent or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy; or
- The cancer has developed in the ovaries and extends beyond the pelvis and has metastasized to or beyond the regional lymph nodes and is recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy.
Malignant Neoplastic Diseases in Children – Section 113.00 of the Blue Book
If your child has been diagnosed with sarcoma, their case will be evaluated under Section 113.00 of the Social Security Blue Book. When applying for benefits under this Blue Book listing, the SSA will consider:
- The origin of the malignancy;
- The extent of involvement; and
- The duration, frequency, and response to antineoplastic therapy.
To support your child’s claim for disability benefits, you will want to provide your child’s detailed medical records including a pathology report and operative notes.
For more information on the Malignant Neoplastic Diseases Section of the Blue Book, visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/malignant-neoplastic-diseases
Sarcoma and the Compassionate Allowance Program
In 2008, the SSA introduced the Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program to speed up the application process for very severe conditions to go through an expedited application process. Individuals with a designated CAL condition will receive a decision on their application within a few weeks as opposed to a few months. Listed below are the various different Sarcomas that qualify for the CAL program:
- Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma
- Chondrosarcoma – with multimodal therapy
- Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma
- Ewing Sarcoma
- Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma
- Pulmonary Kaposi Sarcoma
The Different Social Security Disability Programs
There are two disability programs that are administered by the Social Security Administration. These programs are known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has its own qualifying criteria in order to be approved for benefits under that program.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have earned enough work credits through your prior work history. As of 2013, taxpaying workers earn one work credit for each $1,160 that they earn, up to a maximum of 4 work credits per year. If you are between the ages of 31 and 42, you need 20 work credits in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you are younger than 31, you will need fewer work credits. If you are older than 42, you will need more work credits. The exact amount of work credits that you need is determined by your age.
If you do not have any work credits, you may be able to qualify for SSI benefits. SSI is a needs-based program and no work credits are needed to qualify. To qualify for SSI benefits, your household income and assets must be within the guidelines that have been determined by the Social Security Administration. As of 2013, in order to qualify for SSI benefits, your household income cannot exceed $710 per month as an individual or $1,060 per month as a couple. Your household assets must also not exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are an adult, you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online (http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm) or in person at your local Social Security office. If you are applying for benefits for a child, you will need to go to your local Social Security office to apply.
When applying for benefits, you will be asked to fill out a number of forms. Be sure to fill all forms out in their entirety and answer all questions with thorough and detailed answers. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for the SSA to understand how your condition prevents you from maintaining work activity or how it impacts your child’s development. You should also bring copies of all medical records to support your claim for disability benefits. If you are applying for SSI benefits, be sure to bring financial records too such as pay stubs and bank statements.
You should receive a decision regarding your Social Security Disability claim within three to six months of the date of your initial application.
Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
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