Social Security Disability’s Blue Book contains several listings related to qualifying cancers. If you’re living with leukemia, read on to learn more about whether you qualify for disability benefits.
Does Leukemia Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Leukemia is a broad term for cancers of the blood cells. Leukemia is typed based on the type of blood cell that becomes cancerous. Like most cancers, leukemia is staged and categorized based on its severity, rate of growth and spread throughout the body. Is leukemia considered a disability? It depends on several factors that we’ll cover in more detail below.
Leukemia is a blood cancer without tumors. Because of this, doctors stage it differently than other cancers. Leukemia stages are characterized by the number of leukemia cells in other organs and by how rapidly the cancer is spreading. Doctors prescribe treatment protocols by stage and by the type of leukemia diagnosis a patient receives.
Common types of leukemia include Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), B-cell and T-cell Leukemia, and Acute or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL or CLL). Chemotherapy is the primary treatment protocol for any type of leukemia.
When considering whether someone qualifies for SSDI or SSI disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will evaluate how the leukemia impacts a person’s ability to work in a ‘substantial’ capacity. This typically involves a significant review of medical diagnostics, notes from treating medical providers, and the claimant’s own testimony as to the impact of their diagnosis.
It is common for those living with leukemia to suffer from severe fatigue, pain and neuropathy due to their chemotherapy treatments. The level of severity of these medical conditions on a person’s daily life determines how likely they are to qualify for disability benefits. We’ll review the SSA’s Blue Book Listing for leukemia in the next section.
Social Security’s Blue Book Listing for Leukemia
SSA’s Blue Book Listing for leukemia falls under Sub-Section 13.06 under the broader ‘Cancer’ 13.00 Section. The listing addresses two categories of leukemia, acute and chronic, and defines both as follows:
“A. Acute leukemia (including T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma). Consider under a disability until at least 24 months from the date of diagnosis or relapse, or at least 12 months from the date of bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, whichever is later. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairment(s) under the criteria for the affected body system.
B. Chronic myelogenous leukemia, as described in 1 or 2:
1. Accelerated or blast phase (see 13.00K2b). Consider under a disability until at least 24 months from the date of diagnosis or relapse, or at least 12 months from the date of bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, whichever is later. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairment(s) under the criteria for the affected body system.
2. Chronic phase, as described in a or b:
a. Consider under a disability until at least 12 months from the date of bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairment(s) under the criteria for the affected body system.
b. Progressive disease following initial anticancer therapy.”
As you’ll note, the listing asks SSA to refer to impairment criteria for the affected body system. This means that when SSA evaluates your impairments, they will use the criteria that aligns with what body parts your leukemia impacts.
As an example, Acute Myeloid Leukemia can lead to heart failure because the medications that doctors use to treat it can cause permanent heart damage. A claim for disability benefits involving AML that led to heart failure would involve the SSA listing for the heart.
Winston Salem Disability Lawyer
Disability claimants represented by a disability lawyer win more claims than unrepresented claimants. If you or someone you know is applying for disability benefits, contact a Winston-Salem disability lawyer at Collins Price today. We help claimants at every stage of the process and there is no fee unless we win your claim.