Dealing with cancer can be extremely challenging, overwhelming, and stressful. This is especially true if you can’t return to the workplace and provide for your family. Every year, thousands of Arkansans are diagnosed with this terrible disease. While cancer and its treatments can make even the simplest daily living activities difficult or impossible, you can still fight to get financial assistance through the Social Security Administration. Our Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can help you obtain SSDI and SSI benefits if you were diagnosed with cancer.
Understanding How Cancer Disables People in Arkansas
Cancer can lead to signs and symptoms that make working impossible, including:
Unexpected Weight Loss
If you have experienced a weight loss of ten pounds or more that cannot be explained, you should immediately consult with a medical professional. Pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and lung cancer are those most likely to cause an unexplained weight loss.
Fatigue can be described as extreme tiredness that is not improved after resting. In cancers where internal bleeding occurs, like stomach and colon cancer, fatigue can be caused by blood loss.
A fever is a common sign of certain cancers like Leukemia or lymphoma; however, it can also indicate that cancer has metastasized, or spread, to a different part of the body.
Bone cancer or a tumor may cause unexplained pain. A headache that does not go away or respond to treatment can sign a brain tumor. Similarly, lower back pain can be caused by colon or rectal cancer.
These are only some of the symptoms directly caused by the disease. Unfortunately, cancer treatments can also cause debilitating nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, anemia, sexual side effects, anxiety, and depression.
Working with an experienced social security disability attorney, like Ken Kieklak, can eliminate much of the stress, anxiety, and work associated with an application for disability benefits. Let us handle the legal side of things so that you can focus on your recovery.
What SSA Benefits Can I Qualify for with Cancer in Arkansas?
Cancer can force you to stop working or generating income while your illness persists. This can make things like providing for yourself and your family extremely challenging. The SSA assists those who are unable to work due to their cancer. However, to get the benefits provided by the SSA, the petitioner must meet specific requirements. Some of the benefits you can get if you were diagnosed with cancer and cannot return to work include the following:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal insurance program managed by the SSA. This program is designed to provide supplemental income to people who are unable to work due to a disability or are physically restricted from doing their job. The assistance provided by the SSA, through an SSDI can be temporary or permanent, depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
Unfortunately, SSDI benefits are reserved for those who meet a specific set of requirements set forth by the SSA. The petitioner must have a physical or mental condition preventing them from engaging in a substantial gainful activity or “SGA.” Additionally, their condition should be expected to last at least twelve months or likely cause death. The petitioner must also be under the age of 65 and must have accumulated enough working credits prior to their disability.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The Supplemental Security Income program allows 65 or older people, blind, or disabled to get financial assistance from the SSA. Unlike SSDI, there are no working credits requirements for SSI petitioners. However, you need to meet a different set of requirements. For instance, you cannot engage in SGA, and your resources must be limited, as well as the value of your assets. Additionally, your medical condition must be listed by the SSA’s official listing of conditions that qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas.
How Will the Social Security Administration Evaluate My Cancer for Disability?
If you can meet the initial work and income requirements, the process will proceed to the SSA’s 5-step sequential evaluation at a disability hearing in Arkansas. For children, a 3- sequential step process is employed. The first step of the process is concerned with whether you are currently working. If your 2021 monthly income, referred to as substantial gainful activity (SGA) by the SSA, is greater than $1,310 (non-blind people) or $2,190 (blind people), you will not qualify for disability benefits on account of your income.
At the second stage of the sequential process, the claims examiner determines whether your impairment is considered severe. As the SSA defines it, a severe impairment is one that imposes limitations on the things that you are able to do, such as lifting, standing, or walking – among other tasks. Impairments that cause no limitations are not considered to be serious by the SSA. If your condition is severe, you can proceed to the third step of the analysis.
The third step determines if your condition is one that the SSA recognizes as severe. If your condition is contained within the SSA’s Listed Conditions, then you automatically qualify for Social Security. Many types of cancer are contained within the Social Security Administration’s section 13.00, covering malignant neoplastic diseases. Listed cancer-related conditions include: Lymphoma (Listing 13.05) T-Cell Lymphoma (Listing 13.06) Thyroid cancer (Listing 13.09) Breast cancer (Listing 13.10) Brain and spinal tumors (Listing 13.13), and other types of cancer.
However, what happens if your specific cancer is not contained within the SSA’s listing? There have been numerous cases where a person with a disability or severe condition believes there is nothing they can do because the SSA does not list their particular condition. If your condition is not listed verbatim on the SSA’s list, you may be able to file under a condition that closely resembles yours. While the particular requirements vary among the types of cancer conditions, an experienced social security disability lawyer can explain each condition’s requirements in more detail after understanding your circumstances.
Steps 4 and 5 focus on what work you are able to do despite your impairment and if there are available jobs that you could perform, respectively. If you cannot do past work and no alternate work is available, you qualify for Social Security benefits.
How Long Does it Take to Approve My Disability Benefits with Cancer in Arkansas?
When filing for Social Security disability benefits, your claim will go through multiple processes and stages before it is approved or denied – depending on each case. Unfortunately, the evaluation and approval process of all SSDIs and SSIs can take a long time. Typically, there are five stages your claim can go through. Our Arkansas children’s disability attorneys explain.
Initial Claim Process
Your SSDI or SSI claim process begins with your claim’s presentation before the SSA. At this point, you will need to provide the SSA with all the required documents and evidence supporting your claim. Once you have met your claim’s submission requirements, the SSA will send your claim to the Arkansas Disability Determination Services (ADDS). The ADDS will then be in charge of evaluating your claim and determining your claim’s medical validity. Approximately 70% of all submitted claims are denied during this initial process. If your claim is denied, you can go to the next stage.
If your disability claim is denied in Arkansas, you still have a chance to fight for your benefits through an appeal. It is essential to have an experienced Arkansas Social Security benefits attorney by your side. Dealing with SSA’s appeals process can be complex and nuanced. An error at this stage can put your benefits at risk. At this point, you should be able to present new evidence to support your claim. The appeals process is extremely important because the success rate for appeals is 30% or less. Thus, finding, submitting, and properly defending your case is critical during your first appeal.
If your appeal is denied, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). During this process, you can provide the ALJ with all of your evidence. You will be given a chance to testify regarding your condition or disability and how it affects your ability to work. The ALJ will evaluate your claim and approve or deny it at their discretion.
Appeal Before the Appeal Council
If the ALJ denied your claim during your administrative hearing, you can take your case to the Arkansas Appeal Council. The council will evaluate your case, the ALJ’s determination, and decide whether they uphold the ALJ’s decision. If they uphold the ALJ’s decision, you can proceed to the next stage.
Federal District Court Appeal
If all other remedies fail, you can file an appeal with the Arkansas Federal District Court. At this stage, a federal judge will evaluate your case, along with the ALJ’s original determination of your case to determine whether that decision is upheld or denied.
The complete SSDI or SSI process can take years, depending on your particular situation. However, the SSA has different options to expedite new disability claims depending on their specific situations. For instance, if you suffer certain conditions such as Leukemia or pancreatic cancer may qualify for what is known as a “Compassionate Allowance.” Through this initiative, the SSA can qualify a disability claim expeditiously. It is always in your best interest to hire an experienced, skilled Arkansas Social Security benefits attorney who understands how this and other processes work.
How Much in Disability Benefits Can I Get for My Cancer in Arkansas?
The monthly SSDI benefits you can get can change from case to case. Usually, the maximum amount of benefits a petitioner can get in 2021 is $3,148. However, this doesn’t mean you will automatically get the maximum SSA benefits for your cancer. Keep in mind that the SSA provides benefits based on the amount of income on which you paid your Social Security taxes during your working years. Additionally – as mentioned – they also evaluate your SGA and other elements to determine your final compensation. Our Farmington, AR disability benefits attorneys can help you understand what you can expect from your case.
Arkansas Disability Attorney Handling SSDI and SSI Claims for Cancer Patients
Dealing with a severe medical condition such as cancer is never easy. This is especially true if you are your family’s sole provider. However, you can file a petition with the SSA and fight to get monthly benefits for your disabling condition. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has proudly served hard-working Arkansans fight for their disability compensation for over two decades. Thanks to our experience, skill, and knowledge, we are able to guide you through your SSDI process. Call our law offices today and schedule your free, confidential consultation. Our phone number is (479) 316-0438.