ESOPHAGEAL CANCER & SSD
WHAT IS ESOPHAGEAL CANCER?
Esophageal cancer is a malignant cancer that types affects the digestive system. The cancer occurs in the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. This form of cancer is relatively uncommon compared to some other types of cancer. However, the chances of developing esophageal cancer varies depending on your geographic location, ethnicity, health habits, and exposure to certain risk factors.
For example, esophageal cancer occurs more often in Eastern Asia (including China, Iran, and northern India), where it is among the most common types of cancer. In Western countries, which includes the United States, the incidence of esophageal cancer is lower. However, it is still a significant health concern.
TWO TYPES OF SSD BENEFITS FOR ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
If you have esophageal cancer, then there are two types of benefits you can file for under the Social Security program: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to receive benefits, you must first file an application. You can do this online at Social Security’s website. Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for if you have cancer:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):
SSDI benefits are for those who have worked in the recent past and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
SSI is needs based and is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of your household, not just your income. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will be the factor in whether you can receive SSI benefits. You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your esophageal cancer, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.
THE TWO TYPES OF ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
There are two primary types of esophageal cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
This type of esophageal cancer usually develops in the lower part of the esophagus, near the connection to the stomach. It is often goes along with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that causes abnormal changes of the lining of the esophagus. To learn more about stomach cancer, read here.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus usually arises in the upper and middle sections of the esophagus. It is often linked to risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and certain infections.
Common symptoms of esophageal cancer include trouble swallowing, chest pain, weight loss, chronic cough, and regurgitation. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, depending on the stage of the cancer.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
Esophageal cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, although some people may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms depend on the location and stage of the cancer. Here are some common symptoms of the cancer:
- Difficulty swallowing: This is one of the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer. As the tumor grows and narrows the esophagus, it becomes more difficult to swallow solid foods and, later, even liquids.
- Unintentional weight loss: Unexplained weight loss can occur as a result of trouble swallowing, low appetite, and the body burning more energy due to cancer growth.
- Chest pain: Those with this cancer may experience chest pain, which can range from a burning sensation to sharp pain. This pain may occur during swallowing or persist even when not eating.
- Regurgitation: Backflow of food or liquid into the mouth or throat may occur due to a tumor that blocks the throat.
- Chronic heartburn: Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, can be a symptom of esophageal cancer.
- Chronic cough: A tumor near the upper part of the esophagus may affect the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness or a chronic cough.
- Fatigue: Fatigue and weakness can be symptoms of this cancer. These are often part of the body’s response to the disease and are part of the impact of not being able to eat.
GERD AND ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. The symptoms are reflux of the stomach acid and bile into the esophagus. It occurs when the lower sphincter, a muscular ring at the junction of the esophagus and stomach, fails to close properly. This allows the stomach contents to flow back up into the esophagus, leading to symptoms.
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Other symptoms can include regurgitation, trouble swallowing, a lump in the throat, chronic cough, and chest pain. Several factors contribute to the development of GERD. These include a hiatal hernia, obesity, smoking, spicy or fatty foods, and certain medications.
Treatment options for GERD aim to lower symptoms, heal esophageal damage, and prevent further problems. Doctors suggest you maintain a healthy weight, avoid spicy foods, eat smaller meals, avoid lying down after meals, and elevating the head of the bed. Medications and antacids may be given to you to reduce acid production and provide symptom relief. In severe cases or when medications fail to control symptoms, surgery may be considered.
If left untreated, GERD can lead to problems such as narrowing and inflammation of the esophagus, changes in the lining of the esophagus, and a higher risk of getting cancer.
BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS AND ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the lower part of the esophagus changes and becomes similar to the lining of the intestines. Usually it develops if you have long term GERD. If you have GERD, then stomach acid and bile flow back into your esophagus.
Barrett’s itself does not cause specific symptoms. However, there are symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn, chest pain, and trouble swallowing.
The primary concern with Barrett’s is the possibility of it becoming adenocarcinoma. Although the risk of cancer in Barrett’s is fairly low, doctors recommend regular monitoring to detect any cancerous changes at an early stage.
Treatment for Barrett’s focuses on reducing GERD symptoms and the risk of cancer. This usually requires life changes to reduce acid reflux, medications to reduce acid production, and endoscopic surveillance to monitor the health of the esophagus. In some cases, treatment may also involve therapy or surgery to remove cancer cells.
SSA’S LISTING 13.06 FOR ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
SSA has a listing of physical conditions for which they will pay benefits. But, only if you meet the elements of their rules. In the case of esophageal cancer, you must have the diagnosis from a doctor. Your cancer must also be inoperable and have spread to the lymph nodes. Below you will see listing 13.16:
13.16 Esophagus or stomach.
A. Carcinoma or sarcoma of the esophagus.
B. Carcinoma or sarcoma of the stomach, as described in 1 or 2:
1. Inoperable, unresectable, extending to surrounding structures, or recurrent.
2. With metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.
C. Small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.
ESOPHAGEAL CANCER AND YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY (RFC)
If you don’t meet one of the above rules, you can still win SSDI and SSI benefits through a vocational allowance. This takes your esophageal cancer symptoms, medical conditions, your age, work history, skills, and education into account.
When the SSA decides your residual functional capacity (RFC), they use your statements on the forms you fill out for them. For example, when you fill out forms about your past work, you state how much you had to lift on the job and how also tell them how much you stood or sat during a work day.
Your answers on these forms are often some of the most important statements you make. If you state on your Work History form that you lifted nothing on the job, then that is what the SSA assumes is correct. Frankly, there are no jobs where you lift “nothing.” But for some reason, many people write that down as an answer. Even desk jobs require some lifting. You might, for example, lift files, boxes of paper, books, or supplies. The SSA wants to know the heaviest weight you lifted on the job.
Think about it. Failing to tell the SSA about the lifting you had to do at your past jobs, makes it easier for them to return you to your past jobs. In other words, you are making it easier for them to deny your case.
An RFC form filled out by your treating doctor can prove you cannot work by setting out your physical limits. The doctor will state how long you can stand, how far you can walk, and how much you can lift. It will also show your ability to squat, bend, and use your hands.
PROVE ESOPHAGEAL CANCER WITH MEDICAL RECORDS
Social Security looks at all of your medical records. However, they focus their request for records on the twelve months before the date of your application for benefits. When you complete your application forms, you should list all of your doctors and treating sources. For example, list your doctors, counselors, clinics, and include any hospital visits.
Social Security will ask you to sign its Authorization to Disclose Information so they can get your medical records. While Social Security should obtain your medical records, sending them yourself will avoid delays in your case. Only submit a copy of your records to the SSA. Never submit the only copy of your records and expect to get it back. You won’t. Always keep the original or keep your copy of the records for your future use.
Even if the SSA collects your records, it is still your burden to prove that the SSA should pay you benefits. Therefore, it is up to you to make sure the SSA has all of your records. When you have an attorney, they have access to your SSA file when you reach the hearing stage. Your attorney can make sure that the judge reads all of your records. Read more here about the importance of medical records in your benefit case.
If you don’t have a doctor, we have resources on this website to help you. For example, you can find a doctor on our free and low cost mental health resources list in Nevada. We also have a list of Utah’s free and low cost health resources. Additionally, we provide a list of free mental health services in Idaho and a list of free mental health services in Colorado.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you have esophageal cancer, then you need help to apply for Social Security benefits. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your 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 SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Appeal if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the witnesses
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an SSA 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.
IS HIRING OUR LAW FIRM EXPENSIVE?
No. We are not expensive, because we only charge you an attorney fee if we win your case.
It also doesn’t cost you any up front 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, there is a cap on the attorney set by the SSA at $7200. You never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the fee cap and 25% of your back benefit.
If there are costs in your case, like getting medical records, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your cost.
You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. However, your attorney fees come from your back benefit and you pay them only if we win your case.
We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case for esophageal cancer. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
HIRE US FOR OUR YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERIENCE
If you have esophageal cancer, then you need to hire a law firm with experience to help you win your benefits. Cannon Disability is one of the best Social Security law firms in the country. We are one of the best Social Security benefits firm in Las Vegas, Nevada. Also, we are one of the best Social Security law firms in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Our attorneys are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada SSI Information is on this website. We also represent clients in Idaho. Find out more about Colorado SSDI benefits here. Likewise, if you are from California, go here for California SSD & SSI information.
Over the last 30 years, we have won thousands of SSDI and SSI claims. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in SSD and SSI benefits for our clients. It has become more difficult to win Social Security cases. Also, SSA’s listing rules are harder to meet. That is why you need an attorney who will help you win your case.
We recommend you do not go to your hearing without an attorney. Why? Because a lawyer can prepare you for your hearing. She can explain the judge’s questions. Preparation will help you win your case.
Those who come to the hearing without counsel are usually not successful in winning benefits. You should hire an attorney who has legal experience winning SSD and SSI benefits. Contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can help you win benefits for esophageal cancer. Call us today and ask us for a free review of your case.