Getting a cancer diagnosis is an incredibly stressful and difficult experience. While doctors are learning more about cancer and mortality for most forms of cancer is dropping, you may have a hard time understanding your outlook and options while you fight the disease. On top of that, the process of getting disability for cancer is much more complicated than you would expect.
The best way to ease the stress of trying to receive disability for cancer is to get informed. In this article, we’ll explain how cancer diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment can impact your disability insurance claim.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer isn’t a single disease. Instead, it’s a category of more than 100 diseases. When you have cancer, there’s a mutation in your DNA that encourages your cells to grow out of control. These mutated cells can choke out healthy ones and cause life-threatening problems. Some of the most common types of cancer include skin, breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
While cancer can still be fatal, medical specialists have made significant research advances over the past several decades. Between 1991 and 2016, overall cancer mortality rates dropped by a remarkable 27%. However, cancer patients and survivors still frequently undergo intense treatment, including surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy — all of which can limit their ability to work and perform daily activities.
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Do I Qualify for Disability Insurance After a Cancer Diagnosis?
Not every cancer patient is disabled. In fact, many people continue to work during their fight against cancer. However, cancer and its treatment can also cause debilitating symptoms that may make it impossible to work.
The strength of your cancer disability claim may depend on a series of factors, including:
- Your type of cancer and its stage
- The location and size of your tumors
- Your treatment options and response to treatment
- Whether the cancer is slow-growing or aggressive
- Whether your cancer spreads to other body parts (metastasizes)
Throughout your fight with cancer, you should stay in close contact with your physicians and care providers. If you’re struggling with your daily tasks at work and at home due to fatigue, nausea, weakness, or other symptoms, it’s time to talk candidly with your doctor about disability.
Can I Get Long-Term Disability Benefits for My Cancer Treatment Side Effects?
Cancer treatment can involve devastating side effects. If you can’t work because of cancer treatment side effects, you may be eligible for disability insurance benefits. Common side effects vary depending on your treatment protocol, but they may include:
- Chemotherapy: Fatigue, increased risk of infection, nausea, diarrhea, nerve damage, concentration and memory problems, weight changes, easy bruising, hair loss
- Radiation therapy: Fatigue, radiation dermatitis, decreased white blood cell and platelet counts, nausea, mouth sores, weight loss, hair loss
- Immunotherapy: Pain, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches and soreness, swelling and weight gain, increased risk of infection, heart palpitations, skin rashes
- Surgery: Tissue damage, blood clots, slow recovery, pain
Many of these treatment options can also increase your chances of developing other conditions such as lymphedema, which can further complicate your recovery.
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Finally, there’s the emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis. Cancer patients suffer from depression and anxiety more frequently than the general population; about 15 to 25% of all people fighting cancer experience these mental health conditions. If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or panic, talk to your doctors. They can help you get the care you need and document your cancer-related mental health issues, which may strengthen your disability insurance claim.
However, if you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, don’t wait for an appointment. Instead, go to the closest ER, call 911, or contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or online.
How Can I Strengthen My Cancer Disability Claim?
If you want to file a cancer-related disability claim, you’ll need to collect as much information about your diagnosis, treatment protocols, and symptoms as possible. To improve your likelihood of success, you should:
- List your exact diagnosis and cancer stage in your disability application
- Openly and honestly discuss your symptoms and limitations with your doctors
- Provide all your medical records to the insurance company, including imaging studies, biopsy results, and treatment recommendations
- Update your disability insurance lawyer or the claims adjuster if your cancer worsens, spreads, or does not respond to treatment
- Discuss your claim with an experienced disability lawyer at Bryant Legal Group
When we handle a claim, our disability insurance lawyers carefully review the insurance plan documents and medical evidence, looking for ways we can supplement the record and strengthen our clients’ claims. Depending on your unique circumstances, our methods may include consulting with physicians and other expert witnesses. We also value client education, and we’ll carefully walk you through your legal options so you never feel confused or in the dark about the status of your claim.
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Bryant Legal Group: Fighting for Disabled Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors
At Bryant Legal Group, our mission is to empower disabled individuals throughout the disability insurance process. Our experienced disability lawyers are detail-oriented, use sophisticated legal strategies, and always focus on our clients’ best interests.
To learn more about our approach to disability insurance law and find out how we can help you, contact us by filling out our quick and convenient online contact form or calling us at 312-561-3010.
Simon, S. (2019, January 8). Facts and figures 2019: U.S. cancer death rate has dropped 27% in 25 years. American Cancer Society. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2019.html
Weaver, E. (2013, October 2). Depression in cancer patients: What you should know. MD Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved from https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/cancerwise/depression-in-cancer-patients-what-you-should-know.h00-158833590.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.