Skin Cancer and Qualifying for Disability Benefits
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Skin Cancer?
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis
The Social Security Administration lists skin cancer as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 13.03, but has specific requirements in order for an applicant to be eligible for disability benefits.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits for Skin Cancer
Skin cancer that has spread can be difficult to cure and can return.
Additionally, the side effects of treatment may cause pain, nausea and fatigue, which could make it difficult for an individual to continue working. The Social Security Administration lists skin cancer as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 13.03,The Social Security Administration lists skin cancer as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 13.03, but has specific requirements in order for an applicant to be eligible for disability benefits.
An applicant must show evidence of one of the following:
- Skin cancer that has spread beyond local lymph nodes; or
- Melanoma that returns after lesions and surrounding skin has been removed; or
- Melanoma that has spread to a lymph node that is clinically apparent (obvious) or to 4 or more lymph nodes; or
- Melanoma that has spread to nearby skin or distant sites.
Your medical records must state the type of skin cancer you have, where it began and where it has spread to.
You should also provide biopsy and pathology reports and complete information on all treatments received, including the type, duration, and effects.
Usually, skin cancer and its treatment are not disabling; unless you specifically match the requirements of the listing, it may be difficult to be approved for Social Security disability benefits under skin cancer alone.
However, side effects of radiation or chemotherapy that continue past one year may have an impact on an individual’s ability to work. The most common side effects are fatigue, pain, nausea, memory problems and decreased feeling in the fingers or toes. Also, those with skin cancer must limit the time they spend outdoors, and if a person’s job requires them to be outside, for example, if they work in construction or landscaping, they may not be able to return to their job or find other suitable employment, especially if they are 55 or older.
You may still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment; for example, an autoimmune disorder such as lupus.
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 skin cancer and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income.
It is estimated that 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, the most common form of cancer in the United States and worldwide.
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis.Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. Damaged DNA triggers mutation in skin cells causing them to rapidly multiply and form malignant tumors. There are three types of skin cells: squamous cells lying just below the epidermis which act as the skin’s inner lining, basal cells that produce new cells and lie below squamous cells, and melanocytes which are located in the lower part of the epidermis and produce pigment giving skin its color.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer.
Caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays, it can appear as a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, or a bleeding sore. If not detected early, basal cell carcinoma can spread, but it is not fatal.
Squamous cell carcinoma appears as firm red nodules or flat lesions with scaly surfaces on the ears, face, scalp, neck and hands.
The second most common form of cancer, squamous cell carcinoma can grow rapidly if not detected early and result in death.
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 Skin Cancer. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Melanoma develops from melanocytes and often looks like a mole or can arise from a mole.
Though usually caused by intense exposure to the sun, melanoma can appear even on areas of the body not exposed to the sun. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but can be cured if treated early.
Other forms of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma and Kaposi sarcoma.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare, but aggressive skin cancer that appears as firm, painless lesions on the head, neck and eyelids. Kaposi sarcoma is also rare and develops in the skin’s blood vessels and often affects those with a weak immune system.
Most skin cancers develop on parts of the body exposed to excess ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds, but skin cancer can also occur in areas that do not receive any exposure, suggesting other factors, such as exposure to toxic substances or a weak immune system, may contribute.
In addition to excessive sun exposure, risk factors include:
- Fair skin
- Precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratosis
- Living in a sunny or a high-altitude climate
- History of severe sunburns
- Family history or personal history of skin cancer
- Having many moles or abnormal moles
- Radiation treatment for eczema or acne
- Exposure to certain substances such as arsenic
Diagnosis of skin cancer consists of a skin exam and a biopsy of any suspicious tissue; in some cases, imaging tests may be conducted to examine nearby lymph nodes.
Treatment of skin cancer depends on the type of skin cancer, its location, size, and depth. Simply removing a lesion may be all that’s required.
Other treatment methods include:
- Cryosurgery – freezing tissue with liquid nitrogen, killing skin cells which slough off
- Surgery to remove lesions and surrounding skin
- Curettage – scaping away cells with a device called a curet
- Chemotherapy – application of creams or lotions containing anti-cancer agents
- Photodynamic therapy – destroys cancer cells with laser light and drugs
- Biological therapy – uses the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
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.
Even applicants with less serious skin cancer may be approved it can be demonstrated how their condition prevents them from earning an income. The majority of initial applications for Social Security benefits are denied. Having an attorney can help. If you have applied for Social Security benefits or Long Term disability and been denied, contact the Law Office of Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help appeal your disability benefits claim. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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