BRAIN CANCER AND DISABILITY
DOES BRAIN CANCER QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Brain cancer is a serious condition that can cause severe physical and mental symptoms. It can have a significant impact on your ability to work and make it difficult for you to support yourself. Fortunately, there are several ways for a person with brain cancer to obtain Social Security benefits. These benefits can provide financial stability and peace of mind while you work to manage your condition. In this article, we will discuss the different types of Social Security benefits available for those with brain cancer and how you can apply for them. We will also discuss the importance of hiring a lawyer with Social Security legal experience to help you win benefits.
The most common type of benefit to apply if you have brain cancer is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This is a benefit that pays a portion of your monthly income to replace your earnings, because you are unable to work due to illness. To apply, you must submit an application to the Social Security Administration. You can apply online on the Social Security’s website. Next, you will need to submit medical evidence to the SSA that proves you cannot work. Additionally, your brain cancer must prevent you from working for one year or more.
Another option is filing an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSI program provides benefits based on financial need rather than your past earnings. Therefore, if you have a brain cancer, you can qualify for benefits even if you have no work experience. You can also win benefits if your brain cancer symptoms prevent you from working at your past job and any other job. Additionally, you can win benefits if the side effects from treatment leave you unable to work.
DOES IT MATTER IF YOUR BRAIN TUMOR IS BENIGN OR MALIGNANT?
Some brain tumors are “benign” or noncancerous. Other brain tumors are “malignant” or cancerous. Brain tumors that start in your brain are known as primary brain tumors. If your cancer began in another part of your body and spread to your brain, then you have a secondary brain tumor.
The most common type of benign brain tumor is called a meningioma. Meningiomas are tumors made up of cells that form the thin covering around your spinal cord and brain. They make up about 75% of all benign brain tumors. You may be thinking that if a brain tumor is benign or noncancerous, then you don’t qualify for benefits. However, it depends upon your symptoms. For example, benign meningiomas often cause seizures or headaches in the first few weeks to months after diagnosis. They don’t usually cause problems with your vision, hearing, or motor skills. However, if seizures or headaches are ongoing, then you might not be able to work. If you have a frequent headache, talk to your doctor about whether you might have a meningioma.
Finally, if you have a malignant brain tumor that is inoperable, metastatic, or is not responding to treatment, then you should automatically meet SSA’s medical rules for Social Security benefits. There is a good chance that the SSA will quickly approve your case without the need for a hearing. But, your lawyer should flag your case as a compassionate allowance case to make sure that happens.
BRAIN CANCER SYMPTOMS
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of cells that grows and divides uncontrollably. It is brain cancer if these cells are found within the brain or the central spinal canal. Tumors that start in the brain are called primary brain tumors. Those that spread to the brain from other parts of the body, such as the lungs, kidney, breast, or pancreas, are known as secondary tumors.
Brain tumors can cause a variety of symptoms, from nausea, headaches, and seizures to problems with speech, sight, and sound.
Below please find some of the symptoms of brain cancer:
- New onset headaches
- Headaches that gradually get worse
- Unexplained vomiting and nausea
- Blurred vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision
- Loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
- Trouble with balance
- Speech issues
- Difficulty making simple decisions
- Inability to follow simple instructions
- Personality changes
- Hearing problems
If you have a number of these symptoms, you could have a brain tumor. You should seek treatment from a doctor who is a cancer expert.
TREATMENT FOR BRAIN CANCER
There are a number of treatment options for brain cancer. However, the chances of recovering from brain cancer depends on the size and location of your brain tumor. It also depends on whether the cancer has spread to the rest of your body. Surgery may be an option to remove or reduce the size of a brain tumor, but many tumors are inoperable. In other cases, surgery may not work. Surgery is unlikely to cure cancer, but it can stop the spread of the tumor and prevent seizures in some cases.
Other options for treating brain tumors include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Medications may be used to treat brain cancer, but they will not cure the condition. These medications can help relieve symptoms and reduce the chance of seizures. They may also lower the risk of a second primary tumor from developing in the same location.
Consciousness raising drugs are sometimes given to brain tumor patients during periods of remission or when their symptoms do not require sedation. In these cases, these drugs work by increasing wakefulness and alertness, as well as pain control and sedation. Sedative drugs, particularly benzodiazepines, are commonly used to reduce anxiety and induce sleep in people with brain tumors. The side effects from these medical therapies can be severe and also prevent you from working. If that is the case, then the side effects from brain cancer therapy can form the basis of your claim.
SSA LISTING 13.13 AND BRAIN CANCER
If you have brain cancer, the SSA will use “Blue Book” listing 13.13 for cancer of the central nervous system to determine if you meet their listing. Listing 13.13 is for cancer of the primary central nervous system, which includes brain and spinal cord cancers. In order to meet listing 13.13, your brain tumor must be a malignant tumor of the brain, spinal cord, or spinal root that has progressed or recurred after initial treatment.
For examples of malignant tumors, the SSA lists glioblastoma multiforme, ependymoblastoma, and diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas. They also include any grade III or grade IV CNS cancer, including astrocytomas, sarcomas, medulloblastoma and other neuroectodermal tumors. Below you will find the elements of listing 13.13:
Listing 13.13 Nervous system.
A. Primary central nervous system (CNS; that is brain and spinal cord) cancers, as described in 1,2 or 3:
1. Glioblastoma multiforme, ependymoblastoma, and diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas.
2. Any Grade III or Grade IV CNS cancer, including astrocytomas, sarcomas, and medulloblastoma and other primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs).
3. Any primary CNS cancer, as described in a or b:
b. Progressive or recurrent following initial anticancer therapy.
B. Primary peripheral nerve or spinal root cancers, as described in 1 or 2:
2. Progressive or recurrent following initial anticancer therapy.
Social Security will decide whether you meet the listing by reading the medical evidence in your case and comparing it to the elements of the listing. Therefore, it is crucial that you submit all of your medical records to the SSA. You should also submit a statement from your doctor as to whether you meet the listing. If your brain cancer meets the listing, then you should win benefits without having to wait for a hearing.
THE TYPES OF BRAIN CANCER
There are many different types of brain tumors. Each kind of brain cancer gets its name from the type of cells involved. For example, below you will find a list of different form of primary brain tumors:
- Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas). These tumors are benign. They develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from your inner ear to your brain.
- Craniopharyngiomas. These tumors are rare. They start near the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that controls many body functions. As the tumor slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.
- Germ cell tumors. Germ cell tumors can develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries form. Sometimes germ cell tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.
- Gliomas. These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
- Medulloblastomas. These brain tumors are most common in children, though they can occur at any age. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower part of the brain and spreads through the spinal fluid.
- Meningiomas. A meningioma is a tumor that grows from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas are noncancerous.
- Pituitary adenomas. These tumors develop in the pituitary gland at the base of your brain. They can affect the pituitary hormones.
SECONDARY BRAIN TUMORS
Secondary or metastatic brain tumors are tumors that result from cancer that starts outside of your brain, but then spreads to your brain. This type of brain tumor usually occurs in people who have a past history of cancer. However, though it is rare, a metastatic brain tumor may be a sign of cancer that began in another location in your body.
Any cancer that starts in the body can then spread to the brain. Common types of cancer that spread to the brain include:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
BRAIN CANCER IMPACTS YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
If your brain cancer does not meet listing 13.13, you can still receive benefits if your brain cancer impairs your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is the medical assessment of what you can physically and mentally do in a work setting, considering your brain cancer. It is the definition of your limits after taking into account your brain cancer symptoms.
Your RFC includes both your physical and mental limitations. In terms of physical limits, the SSA tries to define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday. Likewise, the SSA will include your ability to carry, pull, and push. Find out more about how the SSA defines work here.
In order to figure out your physical RFC, the SSA will examine your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor states in your medical records about your ability to work. Additionally, the SSA has their own doctors that review your medical records, but never meet or examine you. These doctors are paid by the government and work for DDS, the state agency who reviews all cases. The SSA will take the medical opinion of these doctors into account too. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to a medical exam. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s consultative exam.
The SSA will also consider descriptions of your symptoms from your family and friends. Find out more information about what types of evidence the SSA must consider here. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about the limiting effects of your brain cancer symptoms. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work.
COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCES FOR BRAIN CANCER
Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances program allows a person with a severe medical condition, like brain cancer, to win benefits in a short period of time. Some of the tumors listed above, like glioblastoma multiforme, spread very quickly and will be fatal. Therefore, the SSA should automatically grant your benefits for this type of brain tumor. The average survival time after being diagnosed with this type of tumor is 12 to 16 months.
If you have this type of brain tumor, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. Make sure that the SSA has all your medical evidence and have your doctor write a letter to the SSA that talks about your prognosis. If you have an attorney, they will have the SSA flag your case as a Compassionate Allowance. This should speed up your case and you should be paid benefits within a matter of weeks.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
You do not need to apply for Social Security benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. Cannon Disability can help you file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY FOR OUR YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERIENCE
The SSA benefits application and appeal process can be long and complicated. It certainly won’t be easier for you if you have brain cancer. Hire Cannon Disability Law to give you legal advice and walk you through the application process. In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due due benefits for our clients.
If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the legal experience to win your case. We work on a contingency basis. This means we do not charge you any money up front to help you or for you to become our client. Then, you only pay us an attorney fee when you win benefits. If you don’t win, you don’t pay an attorney fee. For help, contact us today.
If you want to learn more about our lawyers and staff, then read our About Us page. For example, you can learn about Andria Summers, who has 21 experience working at Cannon Disability Law. She can also help you with your Medicare advantage plan. She has also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.
Additionally, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Ms. Cannon has years of Federal Court experience. Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are Social Security law experts. You can trust us to help you win your benefits and make a difficult process as easy as possible for you.
WE OFFER A FREE CONSULTATION ABOUT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
If you need help filing for benefits due to brain cancer, then reach out to Cannon Disability Law. Taking the first step by calling us. All you need to do is reach out to our legal team.
Additionally, we offer a free review of your case. What that means is that you can call us and explain your situation. At that point, we will look at the merits of your case for free and let you know if you have a chance to win benefits. We do not charge you for our review of your case.
In the past 30 years, we have won over $100 million in SSDI and SSI benefits for our clients. We are experts at what we do and we will put our knowledge to work for you. Hire us to be your Social Security legal team.
We help clients win benefits in many states, including Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and California. Find out more about your benefits and how to apply in your state here:
- California SSDI and SSI benefits
- Colorado SSDI and SSI benefit information
- Idaho SSDI and SSI benefits
- Nevada SSDI and SSI benefits
- Utah SSDI and SSI benefits
No matter where you live, we want to be your legal team. Hire the best Social Security legal team with no money down. Also, there will be no attorney fee unless we win your case. Contact us today. We will do our best to help you win SSDI and SSI benefits for brain cancer. We know that it is a serious and possibly fatal disease, so we will also due our best to win your brain cancer benefits as quickly as possible.