MULTIPLE MYELOMA & DISABILITY BENEFITS
Multiple myeloma is a rare, but serious, form of blood cancer. The exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown. However, it starts with one atypical plasma cell which then grows in the bone marrow. This results in cancer cells. The myeloma cells don’t have a typical life cycle. Instead of multiplying and then dying, they continue dividing indefinitely. Hence, the term cancer. Multiple myeloma is also known as Kahler’s disease.
When you have multiple myeloma, your plasma cell crowd out the regular blood cells in your bones. The cells also let too much protein (called immunoglobulin) into your bones and blood. The plasma cells also send out chemicals that trigger other cells to eat away at your bones.
As multiple myeloma gets worse, the plasma cells spill out of your bone marrow and begin to spread. This causes organ damage. There’s no cure for Multiple myeloma. However, treatments can slow its spread.
OTHER PLASMA CELL DISORDERS SIMILAR TO MULTIPLE MYELOMA
Multiple myeloma is one of many conditions that can cause problems with your plasma cells. Others include:
- Monoclonal gammopathy. This condition occurs when your plasma cells make too many copies of one antibody. Multiple myeloma is a form of this condition. Another form, monoclonal gammopathy, might make you more likely to get multiple myeloma.
- Solitary plasmacytoma. This is like multiple myeloma, but it causes a single unusual plasma cell growth rather than many of them. The plasma cell growth can happen inside or outside a bone. It also raises your risk of multiple myeloma.
- Light chain amyloidosis. This condition causes unusual plasma cells in your bone marrow, but it does not cause as many unusual plasma cells as multiple myeloma.
- Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. This condition is a type of both monoclonal gammopathy and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. The cells of this cancer have both plasma cells and lymphoid tissue.
SYMPTOMS OF MULTIPLE MYELOMA
Before your diagnosis of Multiple myeloma, you might not notice any of the following symptoms. But over time, you may have:
- Bone pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Frequent infections
- Severe thirst
- Weakness in your arms and legs
One of the main symptoms above, bone pain, is not a symptom we normally experience. However, it is the combination of these symptoms that may make you set up an appointment with your primary care doctor. Hopefully, your doctor will notice that these symptoms are not normal and send you to a cancer specialist. A cancer doctor is an oncologist.
MULTIPLE MYELOMA COMPLICATIONS
Multiple myeloma, like most cancers, can cause physical problems. These problems include:
- Bone problems. Your bones can become weaker, leading to broken bones.
- Blood problems. You might get anemia. Anemia means your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells. If you have anemia, then you will be tired, pale, and you may have heart problems. You can also have too few platelets, which makes it more difficult for your blood to clot.
- Infections. When you have myeloma, your body produces a lot of weak antibodies that crowd out healthy ones. This will impact your immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight infection.
- Kidney damage. Myeloma can impact your kidneys, making it difficult for them to filter the way they should. This can lead to kidney failure.
POSSIBLE TREATMENTS FOR MULTIPLE MYELOMA
There are many treatments for multiple myeloma, including medications that your doctor will prescribe. Additional treatments include:
STEM CELL TRANSPLANT
Your doctor might suggest that you have a stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant occurs when your doctor removes some of your stem cells, then freezes and stores them. Your doctor can also use stem cells from a donor.
BISPHOSPHONATES FOR BONE PAIN
Your doctor might suggest other treatments if your multiple myeloma causes painful bone damage. You doctor might suggest you use bisphosphonates. This type of drug helps slow bone breakdown. You can take these medicines as pills or get them through a needle.
SSA’S LISTING 13.07 FOR MULTIPLE MYELOMA
SSA’s listing 13.07 outlines what you need in order to meet the listing. Obviously, you first need a diagnosis of the disease. You will also need to comply with the treatment your doctor recommends. If the cancer does not respond to the treatment, then you meet the listing.
You can also meet the listing by having a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. If you undergo this procedure then you should be found disabled for one year from the date of the transplant.
13.07 Multiple myeloma (confirmed by appropriate serum or urine protein electrophoresis and bone marrow findings).
A. Failure to respond or progressive disease following initial anticancer therapy.
B. 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.
IF YOU DON’T MEET LISTING 13.07, YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY MATTERS
If you do not meet listing 13.07 for multiple myeloma, then a judge will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC is what is “found” at step four of the disability review process. DDS determines your RFC at the lower levels of your claim. However, once the case moves to the a hearing, it is the ALJ who will determine your RFC.
Your RFC can help you win benefits by showing that your cannot physical or mentally sustain a full time job due to the symptoms of multiple myeloma. Find out more about disability hearings here.
In order for the ALJ’s RFC assessment to comply with SSA’s rules, the decision by the judge must include a written discussion. The discussion must include how the evidence supports each conclusion.
The judge must cite specific medical facts. Also, the judge must discuss the other types of evidence in your case. The other evidence includes your testimony about your daily activities.
In assessing RFC, the ALJ must discuss your ability to complete an 8 hour work day, 40 hours a week. In all cases in which symptoms, such as pain from cancer, are alleged, the RFC assessment must:
- Contain a discussion of the medical evidence. This includes your complaints of pain and other symptoms. The judge can also include personal observations, if appropriate;
- Include a resolution of any inconsistencies in the evidence as a whole; and
- Set forth a logical explanation of the effects of the symptoms of multiple myeloma, including pain, on your ability to work.
For more information about how the SSA assesses the residual functional capacity, go to Social Security Ruling 96-8p. Your testimony about your multiple myeloma symptoms will help show that you cannot work 40 hours a week.
CANNON DISABILITY CAN WIN YOUR SSD & SSI DISABILITY BENEFITS
Throughout your case, our attorneys and staff help you collect your medical records. We will help you prove your multiple myeloma meets the SSA’s specific rules.
Your medical records are crucial to winning your case. Learn more about the importance of medical records here. Once the evidence is complete, your case will be ready for a hearing. Your day in court is before a judge from the Social Security Administration. And, you are the main witness.
Prior to your 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. Also, we will also try to prepare you to answer those questions. You will be answering questions about your health. Learn more here about the questions the judge will ask at your hearing.
For example, you will need to be able to talk about your ability to lift, sit, stand, and walk, throughout an eight hour work day. This is known as your residual functional capacity. You will also need to discuss whether the pain from your multiple myeloma impacts your ability to concentrate. Or, how it impacts your ability to focus on work tasks. If you have multiple myeloma, then you will also need to describe the side effects of your cancer treatment.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY TO BE YOUR LAW FIRM
If you have Multiple Myeloma, a medical expert may testify at your hearing about whether you meet SSA’s listing for cancer. 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 an SSI lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah with the experience you need to win your disability case. Learn about Nevada Disability benefits here. Also, learn about Utah SSD benefits information here.
If you need a Social Security lawyer in Colorado we can help you. Likewise, we represent clients for California SSDI benefits too.
The burden to prove you deserve benefits is on you. Therefore, you may be without health insurance, but still need to go to the doctor. If that is the case, then we have resources for you. We have lists of free and lost cost healthcare clinics in many states. For example, here is a list of free clinics in Idaho. We also have a list of free health services in Colorado and free health services in Utah. Finally, we have a list of free and low cost mental health services in Nevada.
DISABILITY CASES ARE OUR SPECIALTY
In the last 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI hearings for our clients. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in ongoing and back due SSD and SSI benefits for our clients.
During our time in business, we have seen the Social Security Administration change their rules. Over time, it has become more difficult to win Social Security cases, even if you have Multiple Myeloma. The medical evidence to prove you meet SSA’s rules is harder to obtain. Additionally, those who come to the hearing without an attorney are usually not successful in winning benefits.
If you have any type of cancer, then you know you are not going to be able to work for more than 12 months. Therefore, you need to apply for benefits. You need to do so right away. Don’t wait. Apply for benefits even if you think you might go back to work. If you do go back to work, then you can always withdraw your application at a later time.
Meanwhile, if you don’t go back to work, your application for benefits is being processed by the SSA. SSDI benefits and SSI benefits are available to you, but first you must start an application. You can file an application online on the Social Security website.
LEARN ABOUT THE CANNON DISABILITY LEGAL TEAM
Cannon Disability brings over 60 years of legal experience to your SSD and SSI case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been representing people with disabilities since graduating from law school in 1992. Our other advocates, Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of litigation experience. During our practice, we have won many SSD cases for individuals with cancer. You can learn more on our About Us page. You can also review our client paperwork on our Fee Agreement and Important Forms page.
If you have multiple myeloma, then contact us. We will help file your application for benefits. Also, we will make sure the SSA reviews your case under the rules. We will also try to expedite your claim because you have cancer. You can trust that we will do everything we can to win your SSD benefits for multiple myeloma.
When you hire your SSD attorney, choose one who has over 30 years of experience. Choose a law office with a stellar record. You want the best attorney with the most experience to help you. Find one who understands the system. You need to win benefits. In order to win, you should choose a law firm who only practices Social Security law. Choose Cannon Disability. Contact us now.