Finding out you have a brain tumor is often confusing and scary. However, knowing whether you qualify for brain tumor disability benefits can help ease your financial worries while you get treatment. We’ll explain what the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for in this type of claim for disability benefits below.
How Common Are Brain Tumors?
Doctors will diagnose around 24,810 malignant brain and spinal cord tumors this year. Of those, about 18,990 people will die from those tumors. These numbers would be significantly higher if we listed benign brain tumor statistics (i.e., tumors that are not actually harmful).
These numbers can seem alarming, at first. But the truth is, there’s less than a 1% chance you will ever develop a brain tumor. If it happens to you, there’s a chance your diagnosis and treatment will prevent you from working for a while. When that period lasts for 12 months or longer, brain tumor disability benefits can provide you with financial support.
Symptoms that Might Help You Get Benefits
You can’t see a brain tumor. You can, however, notice symptoms that your brain tumor specifically causes, like:
- Difficulty thinking or speaking
- Personality or behavior changes
- Hearing loss
- Memory loss
Sometimes, however, brain tumors grow so slowly that a person does not notice symptoms at all. It’s only when the tumor grows large enough that symptoms will become apparent.
It’s not unusual for brain tumor treatment (such as radiation and chemotherapy) to make it impossible for you to work. The following are some common chemo and radiation side effects:
- Brain fog
- Cognitive changes
- Personality changes
Pro Tip: Keeping a daily symptom diary after your diagnosis can help support your brain tumor disability claim.
Qualifying for Brain Tumor Disability Benefits
Like any other health issue that prevents you from working, you must meet certain criteria to get brain tumor disability benefits.
First, a doctor must diagnose you with a brain tumor. You must also prove that the symptoms you have — or the treatment you receive — limit your ability to work.
The SSA uses a specific set of criteria to determine whether a person qualifies for disability. Brain tumors are listed under the Neurological section of the SSA’s Blue Book requirements. The SSA will also require all the following from you to support your brain tumor disability claim:
- Independent medical exam through your state’s DDS office
- Relevant test results from the past year
- Imaging results, such as x-rays, CT scans and MRIs of your brain
They’ll also check to see if your brain tumor symptoms match what’s listed in their own Blue Book requirements, like:
- How your brain tumor limits your ability to physically function every day
- Whether you can stand up, sit down, walk, stand, and use both arms as required to do routine work tasks
- You have difficulty understanding things, remembering verbal instructions, or interacting with other people on a regular basis
- You find it hard to concentrate, keep up with your usual work tasks, or maintain your normal pace of productivity
What Else Will the SSA Look for in a Brain Tumor Disability Claim?
In addition to proving your brain tumor is severe enough to keep you from working for one year, the SSA will also check for other, non-medical factors:
- Work history. You need 40 work credits, meaning you worked 5 in the last 10 years while paying into Social Security.
- Income. You must currently earn less than $1,470 each month to qualify for benefits.
- Benefit status. If you already draw early retirement, regular Social Security, survivor, or spousal benefits, then you cannot get disability.
Get Free Expert Claim Help From An Attorney Now
There’s no guarantee of getting brain tumor disability benefits. The process can be quite long and stressful. Talking to a nearby lawyer for free can help you get all your brain tumor disability paperwork right the first time.
Worried about not having enough money for an attorney? Don’t worry: All Social Security attorneys work on contingency. This means you won’t pay anything unless one helps you win benefits. If you don’t win, then you pay the lawyer $0!
And the best part of working with an experienced attorney is that it can triple your chances of getting benefits.
Want free expert claim help at home? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.