Hodgkin’s Disease and Qualifying for Disability Benefits
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Hodgkin’s Disease?
Author: Attorney Greg Reed
Hodgkin’s disease, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is listed as a disability in Social Security’s Blue Book under Section 13.05. To be eligible for Social Security Disability with Hodgkin’s disease, you must prove that the cancer has not gone into complete remission, or that the cancer returns within one year of finishing chemotherapy or radiation.
This year an estimated 8,480 people will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in the United States.
Also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease (or HD) is a type of blood cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s disease occurs most commonly in individuals aged 20 – 29 and over 55. If discovered early, Hodgkin’s disease responds well to treatment, and the survival rate has risen steadily since 1975.
The lymphatic system consists of a network of tiny filters called nodes which rids the body of waste, drains fluid from the body and protects it from infection.
Hodgkin’s disease begins when lymphocytes, the white blood cells in the lymphatic system, grow abnormally and out of control, spreading into other tissue. There are two types of lymphocytes, B cells and T cells. B lymphocytes make proteins called antibodies to protect the body from germs while T lymphocytes destroy germs or abnormal cells in the body. As the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult for the body to fight infection.
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 Hodgkin’s disease. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
The most common form of Hodgkin’s disease is classical Hodgkin’s disease.
This type is characterized by large, abnormal cells in lymph nodes called Reed Steinberg cells and has four subtypes:
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Mixed celluarity Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte depleted Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte rich Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma or NLPHL is a much rarer type of Hodgkin’s disease.
This form of HD grows slowly and usually begins in the lymph nodes in the neck and under the arm and is characterized by cells that resemble popcorn.
The first sign of Hodgkin’s disease is an enlarged lymph node in the armpit, neck or groin that is not painful.
Typically, lymph nodes become swollen when an infection is present. This is not always an indication of Hodgkin’s disease, as swelling subsides when the infection clears.
Other symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease include:
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Sensitivity to alcohol
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain and trouble breathing
- Severe itching
- Enlarged spleen
The cause of Hodgkin’s disease is unknown, but researchers believe there may be a connection with certain risk factors:The cause of Hodgkin’s disease is unknown, but researchers believe there may be a connection with certain risk factors:
- Epstein Bar Syndrome
- Family history of HD
- More men than women develop HD
- Low exposure to bacterial and viral infections at an early age; for example, being brought up in a household with few or no siblings
To diagnose Hodgkin’s disease, a doctor will first review a patient’s personal and family medical history.
In addition to a physical exam, a variety of tests will be conducted including blood tests, imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans, lymph node and bond marrow biopsies. Treatment of HD depends not only on the type and location of HD, but a patient’s age, general health and the extent of the disease. The main treatments of HD include chemotherapy and/or radiation, surgery, bone marrow transplants and drugs to target cancer cells and activate the immune system. The goal of treatment for most patients is to cure the disease, but because some treatments can have side effects which may not arise for several years, doctors will try to create a treatment plan with the fewest side effects.
Hodgkin’s disease, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is listed as a disability in Social Security’s Blue Book under Section 13.05.Hodgkin’s disease, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is listed as a disability in Social Security’s Blue Book under Section 13.05.
To be eligible for Social Security Disability with Hodgkin’s disease, you must prove that the cancer has not gone into complete remission, or that the cancer returns within one year of finishing chemotherapy or radiation.
With the assistance of your doctor, you should provide Social Security with detailed medical records, including:
- Medications you take;
- Tissue and lab reports;
- Results of blood tests and imaging tests;
- Reports of chemotherapy and radiation treatments;
- Reactions to and side effects of treatments;
- Related medical complications, such as heart problems or intellectual problems;
- Limitations to working, such as needing frequent breaks or time off; and
- Impacts on your daily life and caring for personal needs.
But even if you don’t meet the requirements of Social Security’s listing, you may still be too sick to work.
Individuals with Hodgkin’s disease are at constant risk of infection and long-term complications associated with treatment can lead to cardiovascular disease, thyroid dysfunction and second cancers. If you can provide evidence that you’re still unable to work because of complications that persist for at least one year, you may still qualify for disability benefits.
Additionally, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment; for example, a vascular disease or diabetes.
Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book. However, if an applicant has multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit an applicant’s ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work (called a medical-vocational assessment), taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.
If you have Hodgkin’s disease and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
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.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- 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.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are 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.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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