To be eligible for Social Security, a person’s disability must last or be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 month.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma more frequently affects people over 60, and has a five-year survival rate of nearly 70 percent. Treatment advances have made this a very treatable disease.
We are frequently presented with a claimant who has been devastated by the treatment rather than the disease. Keep in mind that it’s the way any disease diagnosis affects the person’s ability to function, not the diagnosis itself, that is considered when a disability determination is made. Everyone responds to treatment and medications differently.
Treatment can create side effects that themselves prevent ability to work. If chemotherapy or radiation affect meaningful activity for 12 months or more, it is possible to succeed in a claim for what is known as a “closed period” of disability benefits.
A carefully developed medical record is the key. Fatigue, nausea and inertia during the treatment period should be documented by medical professionals. Although there are brief windows between treatments when many patients can function normally, the next treatment often reverses such progress. There may be some good days, but a person going through this process will often be unable to predict when full functioning will return. Written statements from witnesses such as family members or friends are sometimes helpful.
Having a treating physician estimate how many work days per week or month would be missed can be the winning piece of evidence. Depression may often be a factor and should be documented as well.
Claims for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can be successful, but they are as challenging as the disease. They are routinely denied at the initial levels because Social Security believes that the condition will resolve before the 12-month duration requirement is met.
Sometimes, by the time a case reaches the hearing level, health has improved and work is again possible. These cases should not be abandoned if disability has lasted over twelve months, but pursued as “closed period” cases. This means that payment will be made for the months disabled, even though there will not be ongoing payment because the disability has ended.
If you are suffering from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and want to see if your Social Security disability case can be won, contact us.
American Cancer Society – National non-profit dedicated to the fight against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer.
National Cancer Institute – Government agency that is loaded with all information related to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer.
Disability Evaluation Under Social Security – Most cancers fall under the 13.00 listing under the Listings of Impairments.