If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be worried about keeping your job while you go through treatment. Fortunately, if you’ll be out of work for 12 months, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly financial resources for people with serious injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working.
The SSA uses its own medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate disability applicants and determine if they have an illness that is severe enough to keep them from working. Malignant melanoma is listed as a qualifying condition in the Blue Book.
Under Section 13.29 of the Blue Book, there are five ways to qualify for Social Security disability benefits with malignant melanoma. You will only need to meet one of the following criteria to qualify:
1. You have recurrent malignant melanoma of the skin or the eye. Keep in mind that listing specifically asks for the same melanoma to return. If you have two separate diagnoses of unrelated cancer that do not meet a following listing, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
2. Your cancer has spread to one or more “clinically apparent” nodes, which is a node that’s detected by imaging studies or by clinical evaluation.
3. If the melanoma has not spread to clinically apparent nodes, you can still qualify if it has spread to four or more nodes.
4. Your cancer has spread to adjacent skin or another region of the body, such as your liver, lungs, or brain.
5. You have mucosal melanoma.
The entire Blue Book is available online, so be sure to review the listings for malignant melanoma with your oncologist to see if you qualify.
Starting Your Application
Most applicants can complete the entire process entirely online on the SSA’s website. This is the easiest way to apply, as you can save your progress to be completed later.
If you’d prefer, you can also apply for disability benefits at your closest Social Security office. There are over 1,000 offices across the US, so it’s likely there is an
office nearby. Be sure not to just drop by at your local office! You should always make an appointment to apply first. You can do so by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
The denial rates for disability benefits are very high: Nearly 70% of initial applicants are denied. It’s important to keep in mind that this includes all applicants. Some conditions like mood disorders have exceptionally low approval rates, so this data is somewhat skewed. If you meet any of the above Blue Book listings for melanoma and are not working, you will have a high chance of approval. Even so, be sure to fill out your application as carefully as possible. If the SSA cannot gather your medical records on your behalf due to an error in your application, you will not be approved.
It usually takes around five months to be approved for disability benefits, but people who have melanoma that has spread to distant organs or has returned despite treatment could actually be approved in as little as ten days. Once on disability benefits, you can focus on what’s important: Your treatments and health.
This article was provided by Disability Benefits Help (www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org). If you have any questions on qualifying with melanoma, feel free to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org