Yes, you can qualify for disability benefits due to breast cancer if it and its treatment significantly impair your ability to work and meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability criteria mentioned in the Blue Book.

If your breast cancer is aggressive, late-stage, or requires long-term treatment, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), applicants will be protected from discrimination. In case your doctor expects that your breast cancer will be cured within 12 months with proper medical treatment, you may not be eligible for benefits. 

To be eligible for benefits, your breast cancer must cause severe impairments that prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and meet the SSA’s duration requirements. As breast cancer is one of the types of cancer, individuals struggling with the disability may be eligible for cancer disability benefits.

Is Breast Cancer A Disability?

Breast cancer is not automatically considered a disability under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition. However, individuals with breast cancer may be eligible for disability benefits if the cancer and its treatment significantly impair their ability to work and meet the SSA’s disability criteria.

To qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Listing of Impairments: If the breast cancer and its complications meet specific medical criteria listed in the SSA’s “Blue Book” (Listing of Impairments), the individual may be considered disabled automatically.
  • Inability to Work: If breast cancer and its treatment significantly impact the individual’s ability to work and earn a living, they may be eligible for disability benefits even if the condition does not meet a specific listing in the Blue Book.
  • Duration: The disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months or more.

The SSA evaluates each disability claim on a case-by-case basis, considering the medical evidence, functional limitations, and the overall impact of the condition on the individual’s ability to work. 

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is one of the types of cancer that originates in the breast cells. It happens when abnormal cells in the breast grow and multiply uncontrollably, forming a mass or lump called a tumor. Breast cancer can affect both women and men, although it is much more common in women.

Does Breast Cancer Automatically Qualify For Disability Benefits?

Some types of breast cancer can automatically qualify for benefits that are severe, long-lasting, and prevent you from holding a job. Under the Compassionate Allowances Program, some medical conditions require a kidney transplant, or in which the applicant loses both legs may qualify for the disability benefits.  

Getting approved for the benefits depends entirely on how your illness progresses and how it impacts your ability to work. 

When Does Breast Cancer Qualify For Disability Benefits?

Breast cancer may qualify an applicant for benefits if any one of the following is true:

  • You are suffering from stage IV (stage 4) breast cancer which is metastatic. It means that your cancer has spread to other parts of the body. 
  • Breast cancer that cannot be cured or is inoperable will automatically qualify for disability benefits.
  • You are struggling with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) that will automatically qualify for benefits.
  • Breast cancer has reached small cells also known as oat cells will qualify you for benefits.
  • Your medical treatment has been expected to last for 12 months or more. Moreover, during that tenure, you are experiencing side-effects thereby making it impossible for you to work.

Common Causes Of Breast Cancer

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, but several factors may increase the risk:

  • Genetics: Inherited mutations in genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk.
  • Age and Gender: Aging and being a woman are the primary risk factors.
  • Family History: Having a close relative with breast cancer may increase the risk.
  • Hormones: High estrogen exposure, early menstruation, and late menopause can play a role.
  • Personal History: Previous breast cancer or benign breast conditions may increase risk.
  • Radiation Exposure: High doses of radiation to the chest at a young age can elevate risk.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Obesity, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, and hormone replacement therapy may contribute.

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Cancer symptoms can vary widely depending on the type, location, and cancer stage. However, some common signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancer include unexplained weight loss, persistent fatigue, and unrelenting pain. 

Changes in the skin, such as the development of new moles or changes in existing ones, may also be a warning sign of skin cancer. Persistent cough or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and blood in the urine or stool could indicate cancers in the respiratory or gastrointestinal systems. 

Abnormal lumps or swelling in the breast, testicles, or other areas may indicate breast or testicular cancer. Other potential symptoms include changes in bowel or bladder habits such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, unexplained bleeding, chronic pain or stomach pain, and frequent infections or illnesses. The after-effects of breast cancer can lead to anxiety and depression.

Types Of Breast Cancer

There are several types of breast cancer, and they can be classified based on where they start in the breast and whether they are invasive (spreading into nearby tissues) or non-invasive (staying within the milk ducts or lobules). The most common types of breast cancer include:

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): A non-invasive type of breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts and remains confined to the ducts.
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): The most common form of invasive breast cancer, starting in the milk ducts and spreading into surrounding breast tissues.
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): This type starts in the milk-producing lobules and invades nearby breast tissues.
  • HER2-positive Breast Cancer: A subtype of breast cancer that tests positive for the HER2 gene, leading to increased cell growth. It can be more aggressive but is treatable with targeted therapies.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer: A rare and aggressive type of breast cancer that causes the breast to appear swollen, red, and inflamed.

What Is The Application Procedure For Breast Cancer?

The application procedure involves several steps. Some of them are as follows:

  • Gather Medical Records: Collect all relevant medical documents, including test results, diagnosis reports, treatment records, and doctor’s notes on your breast cancer.
  • Check Eligibility: Review the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria for disability benefits to see if your breast cancer qualifies for assistance.
  • Apply Online or In-Person: Apply for disability benefits through the SSA’s website or by visiting a local Social Security office or calling toll-free 1-800-772-1213.
  • Wait for a Decision: The SSA will review your application and medical evidence to determine your eligibility for disability benefits.

How To Qualify For Benefits With Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is regarded as the second most common cancer that is found in women in America. Breast cancer can be treated if detected at an early stage. Fortunately, survival rates are increasing every year. 

Some applicants with breast cancer can work while others may be unable to work or permanently retire in extreme cases. Let us see why breast cancer makes it impossible to work:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation that is done to treat cancer can cause side effects that may include nausea, fatigue, constipation, memory loss, and loss of focus also known as chemo fog. 
  • Cancer treatment requires excessive time and you have to stay away from work for a long time.
  • Breast cancer is also known to cause depression and anxiety.

Can I Apply For Benefits If I Have Breast Cancer?

If you are unable to work due to your breast cancer and your healthcare providers are saying that you cannot get better within 12 months, you can apply for the benefits. However, applying for the benefits may take time and is a complex procedure. 

  • An applicant must apply now if they are unable to work due to their cancer symptoms and side effects after treatment. You are suffering from Stage-4 or small cell breast cancer and you cannot recover within 1 year. 
  • An applicant must wait if their cancer is just diagnosed and it is mild or moderate and can be cured with medical treatment. 
  • You must not apply if your breast cancer is not hampering your job or work and you will recover within 1 year as per your doctor. You must not apply if you are earning more than $1,550 every month.

What Benefits Can I Qualify For With Breast Cancer?

There are fundamentally two types of benefits provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA)

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a program provided by the SSA to Americans who are medically disabled and are unable to hold a job. If someone says they are on disability, it means that they are getting payments from the SSA. In the year 2022, 7.6 million disabled workers were approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Applicants who qualify for the benefits will get the following advantages:

  • They will receive a monthly check of $3,822 in 2024
  • Will receive free health insurance through Medicaid or Medicare 
  • Extra money for young kids
  • Forgiveness of student loan debt
  • Higher social security retirement payments later in life
  • You can apply for the program for free

To qualify for SSDI, you need to be honest in providing 6 main things:

  • Applicant must be under 66 years old
  • Taking treatment for a severe medical condition
  • Owing to your medical condition, you will be unable to hold a job
  • You are not working presently either part-time or low-paid
  • Unable to recover within 12 months
  • Before struggling with your disorder, you worked and paid your taxes

Supplemental Security Income

If you and your family have little income, and resources and have never worked, you can still get benefits by applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). With this program, you will be able to get $943 every month in 2024. In some cases, applicants may qualify for both SSDI and SSI. However, it will entirely depend on your medical condition and the seriousness of your disability. 

What Is The Disability Check Amount For Breast Cancer?

The disability benefit amount for breast cancer, or any other medical condition, can vary depending on several factors, including the specific disability program you qualify for, your work history, and your average lifetime earnings.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI benefits are based on your earnings history and the Social Security taxes you have paid. As of 2023, the average SSDI benefit is around $3,467 per month.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a needs-based program for individuals with limited income and resources. The maximum federal SSI benefit amount in 2023 is $914 per month.
  • Compassionate Allowances (CAL): If you qualify for disability benefits under the CAL program due to breast cancer, your benefits will depend on your work history and the specific disability program you are eligible for (SSDI or SSI).

How Can An Attorney Help Me When My Disability Benefits Get Denied?

When your benefits get denied, a Social Security Disability Lawyer can be a valuable ally in helping you navigate the complex appeals process. They will thoroughly review your case, identify any weaknesses in your initial application, and gather additional medical evidence.

All this supportive documentation will help to strengthen your claim. They will prepare you for the appeals hearing, ensuring you are well-prepared to present your case effectively before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Disability Conditions That May Qualify For Benefits

Blindness Brain Tumor AFIB Autism
BPD Cancer Narcolepsy PTSD
Vertigo Schizophrenia Seizure Dyslexia
Celiac Disease Anxiety Depression ADHD
Agoraphobia Alopecia Asthma Bipolar
Breast Cancer Dementia Dysautonomia Epilepsy
Fibromyalgia Hearing Loss lupus POTS
Scoliosis Sleep Apnea Diabetes