DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR BREAST CANCER
Disability benefits are available for individuals who have breast cancer. In order to win those benefits, however, we recommend that you hire an SSD attorney. Attorneys and representatives who practice Social Security Disability law will understand how to obtain the medical records you need to win your case. They will also know how to win your breast cancer case.
Likewise, they will be able to make sure that you do not miss an appeal deadline and that you are prepared for your day in court. If you have cancer, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your Social Security Disability benefits. Contact Cannon Disability Law today for a free consultation about your disability case.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast Cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. Breast cancer can occur in men and women. However, male breast cancer is rare. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The possibility of receiving disability benefits for breast cancer depends upon the kind of breast cancer you have and the severity of the breast cancer.
Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. The breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. Lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. And, the connective tissue surrounds everything and holds it together. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules.
Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized. If the cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, then it becomes more dangerous and can result in death.
INVASIVE DUCTAL & INVASIVE LOBULAR CARCINOMA
The most common kinds of breast cancer are—
- Invasive ductal carcinoma. The cancer cells grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
There are several other less common kinds of breast cancer, such as Paget’s disease, external icon medullary, mucinous, and inflammatory breast cancer.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a breast disease that may lead to breast cancer. The cancer cells are only in the lining of the ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. Some warning signs of breast cancer are:
- New lump in the breast or in the armpit.
- Swelling or thickening in part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin.
- Red or flaky skin around the nipple area or on the breast.
- Pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
WHAT IS A BREAST BIOPSY?
A breast biopsy is a procedure, usually done using a needle, in which your physician takes out cells or a small piece of tissue from the part of your breast where they think there is cancer. Next, the doctor looks at it under a microscope to see if there are signs of cancer. If your doctor finds something suspicious during a routine breast exam, mammogram, or ultrasound, they may recommend this test. Possible signs of trouble include:
- A lump or mass that you can feel in your breast
- Masses filled with fluid (cysts) or small calcium deposits (microcalcifications)
- Nipple problems like bloody discharge
BREAST CANCER GENES
For years, women with breast cancer in their families have had the option to get tested for mutations in two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. If you have mutations in these genes, you have a higher risk for the disease. There have been cases of famous individuals, such as Angelina Jolie, having a double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene.
BRCA mutations are among dozens of other genetic mutations that raise the risk of breast or ovarian cancer. About 12 percent of all women will develop breast cancer during their lives. However, 55 to 65 percent of women with a BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
WOMEN WITH BRCA1 REDUCE RISK OF CANCER IF THEY HAVE OVARIES REMOVED BY AGE 35
Doctors are also stating that women with certain genetic mutations that greatly raise their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, can cut the risk by as much as 80 percent if they get their ovaries removed by age 35. It’s the first study to show just how much the operation can do to lower the risk of cancer.
A THIRD GENE WHOSE MUTATIONS CAUSE BREAST CANCER
Recently, according to The New York Times, doctors are warning that there is a third gene whose mutations cause breast cancer. The third gene is the PALB2 gene. The risk of breast cancer for women who have mutations in the PALB2 gene is almost as high as it is for those with the BRCA mutations. Doctors have known about this gene since 2014, but some women who got genetic screening before 2014 were likely not tested for this gene. If you had genetic testing prior to 2014, ask your doctor for further genetic testing for breast cancer.
People who have the PALB2 mutation have almost as great a risk of getting breast cancer as those who have the BRCA mutations. Like the BRCA mutations, this mutation also increases the risk of ovarian and pancreatic cancer. Anyone who gets genetic testing for breast cancer now will likely also be screened for PALB2 mutations. But many patients screened before 2014 were not tested for it. They may have a false sense of security if they were found to be free of the BRCA mutations, breast cancer experts said. If you have the PALB2 gene, you need to be monitored as regularly as those with BRCA mutations.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.
- Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
- Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
- Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
- Biological therapy. Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer cells or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
- Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer cells.
Doctors from different specialties will often work together to treat your cancer. Surgeons are the doctors who perform operations, such a removing a tumor. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat your cancer with medicine. Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat your cancer with radiation therapy. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Treatment Option Overview.
INFORMATION ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALS
Clinical trials use new treatment options to see if they are safe and effective. If you have cancer, you may want to take part. Visit the sites listed below for more information.
- NIH Clinical Research Trials and Youexternal icon (National Institutes of Health)
- Learn About Clinical Trialsexternal icon (National Cancer Institute)
- Search for Clinical Trialsexternal icon (National Cancer Institute)
- ClinicalTrials.govexternal icon (National Institutes of Health)
NATIONAL RESOURCES FOR BREAST CANCER CARE
The National Breast Cancer foundation offers the following financial assistance for breast cancer patients. You can find many other resources on their website. These are only some of the organizations and screening programs that are available to those with breast cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to breast cancer screening services to women in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 5 U.S. territories, and 12 tribal organizations.
Information about free or low-cost mammogram screening programs is available through NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers lists for free or low-cost mammograms and financial assistance that is based on your location. When you go to their website, Cancer.org, look for the “About Us” tab in the right corner. After you click on that, then select your state in the “Where We Help” menu. This will direct you to a list of local resources.
SSA’S COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCE FOR BREAST CANCER WITH RECURRENT OR DISTANT METASTASES
Under POMS DI 23022.125, the Social Security Administration states that certain severe forms of breast cancer are a compassionate allowance for the SSD benefits program. Individuals with breast cancer meeting the criteria under the following names have a poor prognosis. This means that the 5-year survival rate for breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body or have stage IV breast cancer is about 20%. SSA’s list of compassionate allowances shows the following types of breast cancer to be payable:
- Metastatic Lobular Cancer
- Breast Carcinoma (Stage IV);
- Metastatic Breast Carcinoma;
- Ductal Carcinoma of the Breast (Stage IV);
- Metastatic Breast Cancer;
- Lobular Carcinoma of the Breast Stage (IV);
- Metastatic Ductal Carcinoma and Metastatic Ductal Cancer.
Diagnostic testing: The diagnosis of Breast Cancer is made by clinical breast examination and imaging tests, such as mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI. A needle or incisional biopsy confirms the diagnosis.
PHYSICAL FINDINGS AND SIGNS OF METASTATIC SPREAD
Under physical findings, individuals with listing level severity of Breast Cancer may present with:
- A breast lump or changes in breast size or shape;
- Skin dimpling or skin changes (e.g. thickening, swelling or redness);
- Nipple inversion or other nipple abnormalities (e.g. ulceration, retraction, or spontaneous bloody discharge);
- Axillary lump or contour changes;
- Dilated veins; or
Signs of metastatic spread may include:
- Breathing difficulties;
- Bone pain;
- Abdominal distention;
- Localizing neurologic signs;
- Altered cognitive function or headache.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, you need to be checked for cancer. It is also very important to obtain your mammogram and to perform monthly breast self check-ups.
SSA’S LISTING 13.10 FOR BREAST CANCER DISABILITY
Below you will find the listing that the SSA uses to determine whether or not your breast cancer meets or equals their criteria for disability. This is the information you should give to your oncologist and your treating physician. If your breast cancer meets this criteria for greater than 12 months, then you will be found eligible for SSD benefits.
LISTING 13.10 Breast (except sarcoma—13.04) (See 13.00K4.)
A. Locally advanced cancer (inflammatory carcinoma, cancer of any size with direct extension to the chest wall or skin, or cancer of any size with metastases to the ipsilateral internal mammary nodes).
B. Carcinoma with metastases to the supraclavicular or infraclavicular nodes, to 10 or more axillary nodes, or with distant metastases.
C. Recurrent carcinoma, except local recurrence that remits with anticancer therapy.
D. Small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.
E. With secondary lymphedema that is caused by anticancer therapy and treated by surgery to salvage or restore the functioning of an upper extremity. (See 13.00K4b.) Consider under a disability until at least 12 months from the date of the surgery that treated the secondary lymphedema. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairment(s) under the criteria for the affected body system.
CANNON DISABILITY CAN WIN YOUR SSD & SSI DISABILITY BENEFITS
HOW OUR SSD ATTORNEYS HELP YOU PREPARE FOR COURT
Throughout your disability case, our attorneys and paralegals help you collect your medical records. Medical records are crucial to winning your case. Once the evidence is complete, your case will be ready for a hearing. Your day in court is before an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration. And, you are the main witness.
Prior to your court hearing, we will meet with you to talk about the judge’s questions. We will try to explain what kinds of questions you will be asked. Likewise, we will also try to prepare you to answer those questions.
THE MEDICAL EXPERT
You may think it would be best to not hire an attorney. But, that would be a mistake. It is always best to have an attorney with experience to be on your side. The first reason why it is important to have an SSD representative at the hearing is so you have someone you can rely on to explain the process. This will also ease your worry.
Second, there are other witnesses besides you. For example, the administrative law judge (ALJ) might decide to call a doctor to testify. If the judge does this, the doctor is paid by the SSA. However, the doctor is supposed to be an impartial witness. The doctor will be there to testify about whether or not your physical or mental impairments meet or equal SSA’s listings. So, the medical expert will testify as to whether your breast cancer meets or equals listing 13.10.
If the medical expert says that your breast cancer does not meet the criteria, then what will you do? You may not know, but your SSD attorney does. That is why it is best to have an attorney to cross-examine the doctor.
THE VOCATIONAL EXPERT
Finally, there is almost always a vocational expert at the hearing. The vocational expert is also a witness that the judge calls to testify. Like the medical expert, they are also paid by the SSA. However, they should be objective in their testimony. Vocational experts are people who know about the physical and mental requirements of jobs. The vocational expert is at the hearing to testify about your past jobs. The VE also testifies as to whether you can return to your past work. Additionally, the vocational expert will testify if there is other work that you can do in the national economy, considering your impairments.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY TO BE YOUR DISABILITY ADVOCATE
If you don’t hire an attorney, then there is a good chance you will not be able to cross-examine the medical or vocational expert at your hearing. You also may not know what kinds of questions the judge will ask. Similarly, you may not be ready to answer those questions in the proper way. Therefore, it is likely that you will not win your case at the hearing level. Don’t take that chance. Hire a lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah with the experience you need to win your disability case.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY AND SSI CASES ARE OUR SPECIALTY
In the last 30 years, we have won over 20,000 disability hearings for our clients. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in ongoing and past-due SSD and SSI disability benefits for our clients. During the time we have been in business, we have seen the Social Security Administration change their policies. Over time, it has become far more difficult to win Social Security cases. Also, the medical evidence and listing requirements are more difficult to meet. Individuals who come to the hearing without representation are typically not successful in winning benefits.
If you have breast cancer or any type of cancer and you know that you are not going to be able to work for more than 12 months, you need to apply for disability benefits. Also, you need to do it right away. Don’t wait, thinking you might go back to work. If you do, you can always withdraw the application. Meanwhile, if you don’t go back to work, you have started the process. SSDI benefits and SSI benefits are available to you if you start an application on the Social Security website.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT THE CANNON DISABILITY LEGAL TEAM CAN DO FOR YOU
At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for benefits. Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court. If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court. We can represent you not matter where you live, whether it be Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, or California.
Also, we bring over 60 years of legal experience to your disability case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been representing people with disabilities for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of litigation experience. We have won over 20,000 disability hearings. You can trust that we will do everything we can to win your SSD and SSI benefits.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY WITH NO MONEY UPFRONT
We will use our skills to help you through the disability process. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make it easier for you. We offer a free consultation. There is no obligation to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer.
It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. Also, the fee is capped at $6000. You never pay more than the cap. And, 25% is usually less. You pay the lesser amount.
If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Usually the only cost is to pay for medical records. You owe costs whether we win or lose. Again, attorney fees are paid from your back benefit. But, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. So how can you pay? The only way to pay us is for us to win your case.