LYMPHOMA & DISABILITY BENEFITS
WHAT IS LYMPHOMA?
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is responsible for the production and circulation of white blood cells. The lymphatic system is made up of a network of lymph vessels and lymph nodes that spreads throughout your body. Therefore, if you have cancer of the lymphomatic system it can be life threatening. Especially, if the cancer is not treated properly. Unfortunately, those suffering from this lymphoma may also find themselves unable to work due to their illness.
If you cannot work for 12 months or longer, then you can apply for Social Security Disability Income benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). In this article, we will discuss what lymphoma is and how it can qualify you for SSDI and SSI benefits. We will also discuss how you can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits if you are suffering from lymphoma.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, workers over the age of 30 must have worked at least 20 work credits within the ten year period just prior to the start of their disability. Find out more about the definition of work and substantial gainful activity here. If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, then you can apply for SSI benefits. SSI benefits do not require a work history, but you must meet SSA’s income and asset rules.
Chances are good that you will need an attorney to help you file an application with the SSA and appeal their denials in your claim for benefits. Starting your case with the help of an experienced attorney is the best option. Contact Cannon Disability Law today for help in you lymphoma case.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TYPES OF LYMPHOMA
There are two main types of lymphoma or blood cancer: Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer in which malignant cells form in the lymph nodes, spleen, and organs. The name Hodgkin’s lymphoma comes from the American doctor Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first described it in 1832. It was previously known as Reed-Sternberg cell carcinoma after British surgeon James Reed. In order to distinguish between non-Hodgkin lymphomas and Hodgkin’s lymphomas, doctors now use the term non-Hodgkins lymphoma to refer to any other kind.
The main difference between Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the type of cells affected. Hodgkin lymphoma affects a specific type of cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell. While Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can affect any type of cell in the body’s immune system. Additionally, Hodgkin lymphoma tends to be more responsive to treatment than Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be more difficult to treat due to the malignant cells that spread rapidly throughout the body
DOES LYMPHOMA QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Lymphoma, if found at an early stage, is possible to treat. If you can undergo treatment and return to work in under a year, then you will not receive SSDI or SSI benefits.
However, there are different types of lymphoma that may not respond well to cancer therapy. If you are off work for more than 12 months, due to lymphoma or due to treatment for it, then you can qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits. If you have a stem cell transplant in order to treat your lymphoma, then the SSA will find you automatically eligible for benefits for 12 months following the transplant.
Hodgkin’s Disease is a lymphatic cancer that affects the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. It is classified into two main types, classical Hodgkin’s Disease and nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s Disease. Each type has its own distinct characteristics that can help doctors diagnose and treat it. Below, we will explore the different types of HDs and how they can be treated.
CLASSICAL HODGKIN’S DISEASE
Classical Hodgkin’s Disease (CHD) affects the lymphatic system throughout the body. It is characterized by the presence of an abnormal type of white blood cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell. CHD can present with symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, fever, weight loss and night sweats, and can be diagnosed with biopsy or imaging studies. Treatment typically involves chemotherapy or radiation therapy depending on the stage of disease.
NODULAR SCLEROSIS HODGKIN’S DISEASE
Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Disease (NSHD) also affects the lymphatic system. It is characterized by the presence of nodules called Reed-Sternberg cells in the affected lymph nodes. NSHD can cause a variety of symptoms including fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, and enlarged lymph nodes. Treatment options for NSHD may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell transplant.
TYPES OF NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMAS
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas (NHLs) are a group of cancers that also affect the lymphatic system. They can be divided into two main categories – indolent NHLs and aggressive NHLs. Indolent NHLs grow slowly, while aggressive NHLs grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body.
Some common types of indolent NHLs include follicular lymphomas, small lymphocytic lymphomas, and marginal zone lymphomas. Aggressive NHLs include mantle cell lymphomas, Burkitt’s lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Each type of NHL has its own characteristics in terms of symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis.
The diagnosis and treatment of NHLs can be difficult because, like other cancers, all types of NHLs behave differently and have different symptoms. In some cases, it may be impossible to identify which type of NHL is present in a patient’s specimen. The most important thing to remember when diagnosing any type of NHL is that the vast majority are curable with therapy if caught early enough.
If you have Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, it means you have a rare blood cancer that spreads slowly. It’s also called lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. This disease is also a kind of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Some lymphocytes are called “B cells,” which help your body fight off infections. They do this by turning into plasma cells that make a protein called immunoglobulin M. This protein attaches to germs and helps your immune system target them. In Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, something goes wrong with this process. The B cells turn into cancer cells, which means they grow out of control.
THE CAUSES OF LYMPHOMA
In most cases, doctors don’t know what causes lymphoma. You might be more at risk if you:
- are in your 60s or older for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- had treatment for Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the past
- are male
- have a weak immune system from HIV/AIDS or an organ transplant
- were exposed to chemicals that kill bugs and weeds
- have an immune system disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, or celiac disease
- previously had a virus such as Epstein-Barr or Hepatitis C
- have a close relative with lymphoma
- received treatment for cancer with radiation
SYMPTOMS OF LYMPHOMA
Warning signs of lymphoma include: swollen lymph nodes, often in the neck, armpit, or groin, cough, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, and itching. If you have these symptoms, then have your doctor do a physical exam, including a check for swollen lymph nodes. Having swollen lymph nodes is very common if you have some sort of infection. It doesn’t mean you have cancer.
However, if your doctor is concerned, then they might order a lymph node biopsy to check for cancer cells. For this test, your doctor will remove all or part of a lymph node. Or, they will use a needle to take a small amount of tissue from the affected node. These tests will determine if you have lymphoma.
TREATMENT FOR LYMPHOMA
The treatment you get depends on what type of lymphoma you have. It will also depend upon how advanced the cancer is.
The main treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy that targets the lymphoma cells to slow their growth
The main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma are:
- Radiation therapy
If these treatments don’t work, your doctor could also order a stem cell transplant. There are two types of stem cell transplants that can be done. There is a form of stem cell transplant that uses your own stem cells. Or, they can use stem cells taken from a donor. In order to have a stem cell transplant, you will first have high doses of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy kills the cancer cells, but it also destroys stem cells in your bone marrow that make new blood cells. After the chemotherapy, you will then get a stem cell transplant to replace the cells that were destroyed.
HOW TO APPLY FOR SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS FOR LYMPHOMA
Applying for SSDI benefits can be a difficult process, especially if you have lymphoma. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the SSDI and SSI application process easier.
First, you can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits by going online to Social Security’s website. There, you will have the ability to fill out the SSA’s application and answer the SSA’s questions online. You can also call the Social Security Administration’s toll free number at 800.772.1213. They can help you start your application and send you a paper application, if you want to fill out your application by hand. You can also download the application forms from SSA’s website. You can also go into the local SSA office to complete forms, but you will be in for a long wait if you do it that way.
Finally, the application experts at Cannon Disability Law can help you complete your application for SSDI and SSI benefits. We can also help you complete any appeal forms that you may receive later in the process. Hiring an attorney at the outset of your case is a smart idea. We have years of experience filling out SSA’s complex paperwork and you want it done right from the beginning.
HOW TO FIND A FREE OR LOW COST DOCTOR IN YOUR STATE
It is important to submit your entire medical history, beginning with your cancer diagnosis, to the SSA. This includes any treatments you have undergone, such as chemotherapy, radiation, medication, and surgery. Also, the SSA needs to know how long you have been in treatment and if your treatment is working.
If you do not have a treating doctor who can perform tests and treat you, then you need to find one. On our website, we have a list of free health clinics. You can call these resources and many of them will see you for free or for low cost. Also, they can refer you to an expert in cancer care. Below you will find a list of medical resources in your state:
- Utah Free Health Clinics
- Nevada Free Health Resources
- Colorado Free Medical Resources
- California Free Healthcare Resources
- Idaho Free Health Services
Medical records are the evidence that proves you deserve benefits. You cannot win benefits by telling the SSA you can’t work, even if you have your mother write a letter that supports your statements. Also, going to your doctor twice a year will not help your case. Even if there is nothing a doctor can do except treat your symptoms and pain, you must have medical evidence proving you cannot work due to your symptoms. Without ongoing medical evidence, you will not win SSDI or SSI benefits.
MEETING SSA’S LISTING 13.05 FOR LYMPHOMA
There are several ways for the SSA to award you Social Security benefits for lymphoma. First, you can qualify for monthly SSDI and SSI benefits if you meet listing 13.05 in SSA’s blue book, also known as the list of impairments. In order to meet a listing, you must have proof of every element on the list. Second, you may get benefits if you “equal” listing 13.05. In order to equal the listing, for example, you have to have two or more medical conditions, such as lymphoma and anxiety disorder. Combined, both medical conditions may equal the listing.
Below you will find listing 13.05 for lymphoma. Your medical records must show that you have each of the elements on the list in order for the SSA to pay you benefits.
13.05 Lymphoma (including mycosis fungoides, but excluding T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma-13.06 )
A. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as described in 1 or 2:
1. Aggressive lymphoma (including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma) persistent or recurrent following initial anticancer therapy.
2: Indolent lymphoma (including mycosis fungoides and follicular small cleaved cell) requiring initiation of more than one (single mode or multimodal) anticancer treatment regimen within a period of 12 consecutive months. Consider under a disability from at least the date of initiation of the treatment regimen that failed within 12 months.
B. Hodgkin lymphoma with failure to achieve clinically complete remission, or recurrent lymphoma within 12 months of completing initial anticancer therapy.
C. With bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. Consider under a disability until at least 12 months from the date of transplantation. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairments under the criteria for the affected body system.
D. Mantle cell lymphoma.
DOES SSA CONSIDER THE EFFECTS OF LYMPHOMA THERAPY?
The SSA does consider the effects of your treatment for lymphoma. Yes, they will. Because treatment for lymphoma may result in severe symptoms that prevent you from working, the SSA will consider the symptoms of the drugs you are taking. They will also look at the dosage and the frequency of drug administration. Likewise, they will consider the impact of surgery. Additionally, they will look at whether or not radiation therapy and chemotherapy give you severe symptoms which keep you from working.
The SSA will request a description of the problems or adverse effects of your treatment and therapy from your doctor. Or, they will review your medical records to find out whether you are having ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms, weakness, and neurological or cardiovascular problems. They will also look at whether or not you are experiencing mental disorders due to your cancer. Many people, after treatment for skin cancer, suffer from memory loss, depression, and concentration issues.
The SSA states that in order to determine the severity of the adverse effects of therapy, enough time must pass to allow them to see the effect of the therapy. The SSA believes the effects of treatment are temporary in most instances. However, the effects may be disabling for a consecutive period of at least 12 months. In those situations, the SSA may determine that your medical condition prevents you from working for over one year. Therefore, the SSA would pay you SSDI benefits.
LYMPHOMA CAN IMPACT YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
If your lymphoma does not meet listing 13.05, you can still receive benefits if your 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, after taking into account your cancer symptoms.
Your RFC includes both your physical and mental limits. 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 review 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 review your medical records, but they never meet or examine you. These doctors are paid by the government and work for DDS, the state agency who makes decisions in all Social Security 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 effects of your lymphoma symptoms or the fatigue you experience following treatment. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS FOR LYPHOMA
If you have lymphoma, then you need to know that you do not need to file an application for Social Security benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. Cannon Disability Law 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
- Request reconsideration 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 vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of a 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 in pen and send it back as soon as you can. Benefits are tied to the date you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits.
YOU ONLY PAY ATTORNEY FEES IF YOU WIN YOUR BENEFITS
The SSA has capped attorney fees in Social Security cases at 25% of your past due or back benefit or $7200, which ever amount is less. This is the most your attorney can charge you if your case is won at the hearing level or below.
For example, if your attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $10,000, then the attorney fee will be 25% of the back benefit, or $2500. In such a case, you would not pay the $7200 cap. Instead, the attorney fee is 25% of the back benefit, which is less than the cap. This is what happens in most SSDI and SSI cases.
In another example, if you attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $100,000, the attorney fee is not $25,000, which is 25% of the back benefit. Instead, the attorney fee would be $7200. Because $7200 is the most your attorney can charge you after winning your case at the hearing level or below. That is true even if 25% is higher than the $7200 cap.
Additionally, your attorney can only charge an attorney fee if they win your case. In other words, if you do not win your benefits, then you do not pay an attorney fee. This means that your attorney has worked for up to two years on your case for free. So, if you don’t get benefits, your attorney doesn’t get paid. Obviously, your attorney has a good incentive to win your case. This type of attorney fee is known as a contingency fee, because it is contingent on winning your case.
IS IT WORTH THE ATTORNEY FEE TO HIRE AN SSD LAWYER?
It isn’t easy to get Social Security benefits and the application process can be frustrating for most people. But, having an attorney throughout this appeal process can be invaluable. It is our belief that when you have a law firm with experience handling your Social Security case, the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures. Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the process. They can submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case and advocate on your behalf.
There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness at your hearing. If you hire an attorney with experience, they can prepare you to be a good witness for yourself. Learn more about how to prepare for your hearing here.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY LAW FOR OUR SUCCESS RATE & EXPERIENCE
The SSA benefits application and appeal process can be long and complicated. It certainly won’t be easier to deal with the SSA if you have lymphoma. 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. We have also won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients.
If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the legal experience to win your case. You can hire us for no money down, because 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. If you want to learn more about how attorney fees work in this process, then read here. 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 years of experience working at Cannon Disability Law. She has won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases. Also, she can also help you with your Medicare advantage plan.
Additionally, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Ms. Cannon has over 30 years of Federal Court experience. Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSDI 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.