SSDI and Cancer Remission — Do I Lose My Benefits?

 For New Orleans and Louisiana citizens, getting a cancer diagnosis can be shocking and devastating for the patient and the patient’s family. Cancer-related illnesses are the second-most common cause of death after heart-related ailments. How the cancer proceeds is, of course, a function of the type of cancer and the treatment options that the patient and his/her doctor chose. As the New Orleans SSDI attorneys here at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC know, even “mild” or “less severe” types of cancer can dramatically impact one’s life.

With respect to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), if, because of the type and severity of your cancer and/or the treatment regimen, you are unable to work, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits which can help you and your family pay bills while you — hopefully — make a successful recovery. An experienced New Orleans SSDI lawyer can guide you through the process of applying for benefits.

Sometimes — wonderfully — patients “beat cancer” and the cancer goes into remission. Many of us know people who have battled cancer successfully. The question then arises: what about my SSDI benefits? Do I lose them if my cancer goes into remission? The short answer is: “it depends on the longer range prognosis.” In the larger picture, this is a great “problem” to have since your health is the most important thing you can possess. This article discusses some of the issues related to cancer, cancer remission and SSDI benefits.

New Orleans SSDI Attorneys — General Principles Regarding Cancer and SSDI

SSDI is a program for those with illnesses and medical conditions that cannot work — be “gainfully” employed as the Social Security Administration terms it. Thus, SSDI is NOT about being ill — or having cancer. It is about being unable to work. Some types of cancer will often automatically qualify a person for SSDI because of severity and type. SSDI can also be available for “milder” or “less severe” types of cancer.

In general, these are the requirements for being eligible for SSDI:

  1. The applicant must have worked for a defined number of quarters and have paid FICA taxes
  2. The applicant must have a medical condition, illness or disability that prevents the applicant from working

In general, the amount of monthly benefits is linked to your average income over various periods of time as defined by the SSA. Also, in general, your level of wealth is not relevant and is not taken into account during the application process. In other words, SSDI is not for “poor” people and “rich” people are not ineligible.

Application Process

The application process is a five-step analysis. First, the SSA determines what medical condition you have. Then, the SSA determines if that condition is an “automatic qualifier.” As noted, some cancers make a patient automatically eligible. Examples include esophageal cancer. gallbladder cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer and similar. The reasoning is this: these types of cancer are so painful and so debilitating, no patient could conceivably continue working. Also, certain types of cancer are considered very “aggressive” and the prognosis for those types of cancer again suggest that, very quickly, the ability to work will cease.

If the cancer is a “milder” type — like early-stage skin cancer and other treatable cancers — then the SSA goes through the additional steps of their analysis to determine if your specific cancer impacts your ability to work. If your cancer — or the effects of the treatment including mental impacts — make it impossible for you to work, then the SSA may determine that you are eligible.

New Orleans SSDI Attorneys: What About Remission?

As a general rule of thumb, SSDI benefits are not impacted unless there is an expected remission for at least three years.

Remission is when cancer recedes or disappears because of successful medical treatment. Happily, this is happening more and more often. If there is a complete recovery, then the patient’s SSDI benefits might be terminated because — as a consequence of the medical recovery — the patient is now able to return to work (or at least can engage in some “substantially gainful activity”). However, given the nature of cancer and how quickly it can return, the SSA applies a three-year rule.

The SSA monitors those who are receiving SSDI benefits. And about every two to three years, the SSA caseworkers mail out written requests for status updates. The SSA conducts two types of monitoring “calendars”. One for conditions where there is an expected recovery and one for disabilities that may be permanent. If the status update shows a “recovery” or another significant improvement, under some circumstances, the SSA re-evaluates the individual’s eligibility for benefits.

Your specific type of cancer determines which monitoring “calendar” you are on. The “expected recovery” calendar generates a more frequent request for status information.

If there has been a remission of your cancer and a new medical diagnosis, this information should be provided. The process is to send the various and relevant medical reports/records. As noted, the general rule is that the SSA does not conduct a new evaluation of the patient’s eligibility.

New Orleans SSDI Attorneys: Contact Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC Today

You need trusted legal advocates and advisers to help and to fight rights under the laws. The proven New Orleans SSDI lawyers at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC.can help. We have extensive experience helping Louisiana citizens apply for SSDI when they are unable to work. You have entitlement to benefits if you cannot work and are otherwise qualified.

Having skilled and experienced advocates working with and for you can make a huge difference. Good lawyers know what needs to be in the application. Also, they need to know how to get the best facts and evidence for a favorable outcome. That helps the application proceed smoothly and quickly. Contact our office today via email or by calling (855) 631-2544.