Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits in Arkansas with a Brain Tumor?

Brain tumors are often considered to be particularly serious and rightly so, but before you panic your prognosis is dependent upon the type of tumor and its location. In brief, tumors are broken into two types: malignant tumors and benign tumors. While malignant tumors are, by far, the more concerning of the two types, medical advances in recent years have improved prognoses and often lead to a better quality of life. However, in some instances death or significant loss of ability and functioning can occur in the affect individual. If those limitations are severe and the individual can satisfy the Social Security Disability (SSD, SSDI or DI) program & medical requirements, you can receive cash benefits through SSDI.

How the SSA Assesses a Condition Caused by a Benign Brain Tumor

A benign tumor is a mass of cells, however what typically makes tumors of this type less serious is that it cannot invade neighboring cells or metastasize. From a medical standpoint, this means that a benign tumor is considered non-cancerous. However, without treatment, some benign tumors can progress into a cancerous growth. The chief problem with many benign tumors is their mass effect or the way that the growth can compress other tissue, constrict blood flow, and cause nerve damage. Tumors in an enclosed space, like the cranium, can often produce more pronounced effects.

For benign brain tumors, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines the severity and duration of the impairment on the basis of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings (11.05). SSA Listing 11.05 states the agency will evaluate the claim under 11.02, 11.03 or 11.04 depending on the affected body system.

Listing 11.02 Epilepsy (convulsive) addresses seizure disorders that can be caused by a benign tumor. A convulsive seizure disorder can be shown with a “detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment.” Listing 11.03 addresses non-convulsive epilepsy which can also be shown in the same manner as a convulsive seizure.

Listing 11.04 concerns traumas to the central nervous system. If for three months or more you demonstrate “Sensory or motor aphasia resulting in ineffective speech or communication” or “Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station” then you are likely to qualify for SSD benefits at Step 3 of the process.

How the SSA Determines if your Malignant Brain Tumor is Severe

A malignant tumor is one that is significantly different from its surrounding tissue. Malignant tumors typically grow faster than benign tumors and they can invade other parts of the body. When someone says that they have brain cancer, they likely mean that they have a malignant brain tumor. While brain tumors can spread, they often remain in the brain and the spine. However, an untreated malignant tumor will eventually lead to death.

The SSA evaluates malignant brain tumors under the criteria contained in  Listing 13.13. To qualify at Step 3 of the sequential evaluation process one must show either “Central nervous system malignant neoplasms” or a “peripheral nerve or spinal root neoplasm”. The former can be shown though the presence of highly malignant tumors that are documented to have metasteses. Other grounds include the presence of grade III or IV astrocytomas (a type of brain cancer), glioblastoma multiforme (the most common and most aggressive type of astrocytoma), ependymoblastoma (malignant childhood brain tumor), diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas (tumor that starts in brain of spinal cord that can spread), or neoplasms (tumors) that return despite therapy. The later can be shown when the condition is metastatic or when the neoplasm is progressive or recurrent despite therapy.

Put our Disability Experience to Work for You

For more than 20 years,Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak has stood up for Arkansans who have suffered a serious injury and can no longer work. He can assist those individuals with a serious impairment or impairments obtain SSD and, if appropriate, SSI or Workers’ Compensation benefits. To schedule your free and confidential disability consultation, contact us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.