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Brain Tumors and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

The SSA recognizes brain tumors as impairments under two different listings. An applicant who meets the requirements will automatically qualify for disability benefits.


Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of a brain tumor?

An estimated 700,000 people in the U.S. are living with a brain tumor today and 86,970 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2019. Brain tumors significantly impact a person’s quality of life and inflict men, women and children. The average survival rate for a patient with a malignant brain tumor is 34.7 %, but there are many different types of brain tumors and not all tumors are malignant or cancerous.

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The SSA recognizes brain tumors as impairments under two different listings. An applicant who meets the requirements will automatically qualify for disability benefits. Call 512-454-4000 for help today.

A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells on the brain.

The location of a brain tumor and how quickly it grows determines how it affects the nervous system. Primary brain tumors begin in the brain or tissue close to the brain when normal cells develop mutations in their DNA forming a tumor.

There are many different types of primary brain tumors, each getting its name from the type of cells involved. Some examples of primary brain tumors include:

  •    Meningiomas. The most common type of brain tumor, meningiomas develop from the lining of the brain and the spinal cord (meninges). Often discovered when treating something else, such as a head injury, meningiomas are usually benign and don’t cause any problems though they can become quite large.
  •   Acoustic neuromas. These are brain tumors develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing.
  •   Pituitary adenomas. These tumors develop in the pituitary gland and can affect the number of hormones released into the body.
  •   Gliomas. These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and can cause headaches, seizures or cranial nerve disorders.
  •   Medulloblastomas. These tumors occur predominantly in children, beginning in the lower back of the brain and spread through spinal fluid.

The cause of primary brain tumors is unclear, but some research suggests exposure to radiation and a family history of tumors are risk factors.

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from the effects of a brain tumor. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

Secondary brain tumors are the result of cancer in another part of the body which spreads to the brain through the bloodstream or lymph.

Any cancer can metastasize (spread to another part of the body), but the most common types are lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and melanoma.

Symptoms of a brain tumor vary, depending on the brain tumor’s size, location and rate of growth. Signs of a brain tumor include:

  •    Headaches or a change in the pattern of headaches
  •   Double vision, blurred vision or loss of peripheral vision
  •   Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  •   Loss of balance or difficulty walking
  •   Speech difficulties
  •   Changes in behavior or personality
  •   Seizures
  •   Hearing problems
  •   Difficulty thinking or concentrating
  •   Numbness or tingling in an arm or leg
  •   Weakness or paralysis in one part of the body
  •   Memory problems

Diagnosis of a brain tumor usually includes a neurological exam (including checking hearing, vision, balance and reflexes and coordination), and an MRI and/or CT scan.

A doctor may also order a biopsy and other tests to look for cancer occurring in other areas of the body.

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Treatment depends on the size, location and type of tumor.

If a tumor is benign, treatment may begin with monitoring the tumor and the patient’s condition. If a tumor is accessible and easy to separate from surrounding tissue, surgery may be recommended. Even removing a small portion of the tumor can reduce symptoms. Malignant tumors may be treated with radiation, chemotherapy or targeted drug therapy which focuses on blocking specific abnormalities in cancer cells. Following treatment, a patient may go through a period of rehabilitation to regain motor skills and speech and cognitive abilities.

Social Security recognizes brain tumors as impairments under two different listings in its blue book in Section 13, Neoplastic Diseases (which includes brain cancer), and Section 11.05, Benign Brain Tumors.

An applicant who meets the requirements of Section 13 will automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits as long as they provide evidence that the cancer has spread and has returned after initial treatment.

13.13 Nervous system. (See 13.00K6.)

A. Primary central nervous system (CNS; that is brain and spinal cord) cancers, as described in 1,2 or 3:

  1.   Glioblastoma multiforme, ependymoblastoma, and diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas (see 13.00K6a).
  2.   Any Grade III or Grade IV CNS cancer (see 13.00K6b), including astrocytomas, sarcomas, and medulloblastoma and other primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs).
  3.   Any primary CNS cancer, as described in a or b:

a. Metastatic.
b. Progressive or recurrent following initial anticancer therapy.

In order to qualify for disability benefits under the Benign Brain Tumors listing, the applicant must experience:

“Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities” or

“Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a), and in one of the following:

  1.    Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  2.   Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  3.   Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  4.   Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)). “

Benign brain tumors and their treatment cause a wide range of physical and mental impairments which may leave a person unable to perform their job.

If you do not meet the exact criteria of the blue book listing, your individual or combined impairments may meet the requirements of other listings such as seizure, strokes, speech problems, loss of hearing or neurocognitive disorders.

If you have a brain tumor and it has affected your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

Filing for Social Security disability benefits can be a confusing process, especially for an applicant suffering from a brain tumor or recovering from treatment. A qualified Social Security disability attorney can provide the filing assistance you need and help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.

The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.

  1.   The Duration of Work test.   Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
  2.   The Current Work Test.   Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.

The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.

  1.   Are you working?   Your disability must be “total”.
  2.   Is your medical condition severe?    Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
  3.   Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?   The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
  4.   Can you do the work you did before?   SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
  5.   Can you do any other type of work?   If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.

More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a FREE Consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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