Can I receive Social Security disability payments for bladder cancer?

July 17 is Bladder Cancer Awareness Day. Social Security offers expedited disability case processing for over 225 qualified conditions under their Compassionate Allowances program – bladder cancer is one of them.

Compassionate Allowances are a way for the Social Security Administration to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. Individuals with bladder cancer may receive a decision on their claim in a matter of weeks instead of months or years. Being diagnosed with a Compassionate Allowance condition does not provide additional money above what an individual is eligible for under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs. The Compassionate Allowance program simply speeds up the receipt of a decision on the claim. 

There is no special application or form. Individuals with bladder cancer or any other Compassionate Allowance condition apply for benefits using the standard process. SSA will expedite the applications of those with a qualifying condition.

To qualify for Social Security Disability with bladder cancer, SSA will determine if your condition meets Listing 13.22 for Urinary bladder – carcinoma. To meet this listing, you must show in your medical records that you have carcinoma of the urinary bladder that meets one of the following conditions:

  • With infiltration beyond the bladder wall.
  • Recurrent after total cystectomy.
  • Inoperable or unresectable.
  • With metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.

If your related symptoms do not equal a listing, the Social Security Administration will next assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) (the work you can still do, despite your bladder cancer), to determine whether you qualify for benefits at steps 4 and 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. The lower your RFC, the less the Social Security Administration believes you can do. In determining your RFC, the Social Security Administration adjudicator should consider all of your symptoms in deciding how they may affect your ability to function.

Tips for SSDI Application for Bladder Cancer

  1. Know your medical records.
  2. Make sure your medical records document ALL of your symptoms and limitations and the residual effects you experience. Your medical records should not just document your bladder cancer, they should include notes on your symptoms like how often you feel symptoms, how severe each symptom is and how long each symptom lasts. Make sure that all your medical problems are adequately documented by your doctor, and that you are receiving the appropriate medical attention for all of your disabling symptoms. Make sure any and all side effects of treatment and/or medication are noted in your records.
  3. Have someone assist you with your claim if your memory, concentration, etc. prevent you from completing the forms yourself.
  4. See a mental health professional. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of the chronic problems and inability to participate fully in life, see a mental health professional to diagnose, treat, and document these conditions.
  5. See your doctor regularly and keep your appointments.
  6. If you can, provide evidence of a long work history.
  7. Provide examples of unsuccessful attempts to return to work and/or unsuccessful attempts to work in a decreased capacity, if applicable.
  8. Include information from nonmedical sources to support your medical claims. Gather Information from neighbors, friends, relatives, clergy, and/or past employers about your impairments and how they affect your function. Have them document changes that they have seen in your ability over time.  These are not given nearly as much weight as testimony from a medical professional, but they don’t hurt.
  9. Keep a journal. Make regular notes about your impairment, level of function, and treatments.
  10. If you need assistance with your claim, contact an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability

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Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability and Personal Injury Attorney