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.

Can you get disability benefits for breast cancer?

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. 

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.

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, unexplained bleeding, chronic indigestion 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.

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 a lawyer 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).