Multiple myeloma is a type of slow-growing cancer that most often affects people aged 60 and older. According to the Mayo Clinic, it forms inside a plasma cell in your blood (i.e., a type of white blood cell). Cancerous plasma cells accumulate in your bone marrow and produce abnormal proteins. Over time, this prevents healthy plasma cells from making the antibodies you need to fight off infections.
Reader question: Can I qualify for Social Security disability benefits if I have multiple myeloma?
Answer: Yes. it’s a qualifying disability listed in the SSA’s Blue Book under Section 13.07.
Common Multiple Myeloma Symptoms and Treatments
Multiple myeloma can cause the following symptoms:
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite
- Mental confusion
- Frequent infections
- Weight loss
- Leg weakness
- Excessive thirst
When your doctor first diagnoses multiple myeloma, they may choose to monitor it instead of starting treatment right away. During this phase of your disease, you can probably still work.
When treatment for your multiple myeloma becomes necessary, there are many options. At this point, it might be necessary to stop working and apply for Social Security disability benefits.
The stage of your cancer determines which type of treatment your doctor recommends. Possible treatments for multiple myeloma include:
- Bone marrow or stem cell transplants
Medical Evidence You’ll Need for Your SSD Claim
The SSA uses its Blue Book guide to determine whether certain conditions, diseases, or disorders qualify for SSD payments. Each listing provides the specific criteria, evidence, or documented symptoms you must have to qualify for benefits. In most cases, the SSA wants to see medical records that include certain clinical and laboratory tests.
To award you SSD benefits, the SSA wants to see your multiple myeloma diagnosis confirmed through the following medical evidence:
- An appropriate serum or urine protein electrophoresis test, and
- Bone marrow findings during a biopsy.
The SSA also says your medical records must show a “failure to respond or progressive disease following initial anticancer therapy.”
IMPORTANT: Because the SSA’s requirements are so specific, working with an attorney and your doctors will ensure you complete all necessary medical tests. Experts can also make sure all your evidence is in order when you apply.
How the SSA Evaluates Multiple Myeloma for Disability Benefits
To qualify for SSDI, your multiple myeloma must be unresponsive to your first treatment or have progressed despite treatment. Therefore, when you apply for benefits, include documentation that shows all the following:
- What cancer treatments your doctor regularly provides.
- Your response to those treatments.
- Whether or not your cancer progressed despite those treatments.
Again, your oncologist or hematologist should carefully document all your treatments. This is because you need to include those medical records along with your SSD application.
If you need bone marrow or stem cell transplants, the SSA considers you disabled for at least 12 months afterwards. This means that if you have either procedure, the SSA will grant you disability benefits for at least one year from the date of your transplant.
Are you unable to work but still concerned about disability approval? Ask your oncologist or hematologist to provide physician notes regarding their impressions of your inability to function. Ask them to be extremely specific in what they document. Then, include a copy of these notes when you submit your SSDI application.
You are more likely to receive benefits if your doctors write you cannot complete daily living tasks alone, such as:
- Dressing yourself
- Preparing a meal
- Lifting small objects
- Sitting down at a computer
Multiple Myeloma’s Financial Impact on Patients
The good news is people with this type of blood cancer are undergoing successful treatments and living longer than before. The bad news is the disease can negatively impact your finances. This makes successfully applying for SSD payments as soon as possible even more important.
A recent study looked at the financial impacts of this disease. To understand the details, researchers mailed a questionnaire about financial issues to 1,015 multiple myeloma patients who had intensive treatment. They found:
- 66% of respondents were working at the time of their diagnosis and treatment. However, only 33% were employed at the time they received the study questionnaire.
- Only 35% applied for disability benefits, but 29% of respondents lost their health/medical and life insurance coverage. This matters, since people awarded SSD benefits get discounted Medicare coverage after 24 months.
- Out-of-pocket expenses added up to 36% of each patient’s income during the first year of treatment. During the most recent 12 months, survey respondents said those costs totaled 28% of their income.
How to Get Free Expert Claim Help
Not sure which medical records to include with your multiple myeloma claim? A disability lawyer can discuss your situation and explain SSA requirements over the phone. You’ll pay nothing now for expert help filing for disability. Even better is the fact that these experts can triple your chances of getting benefits right away.
Social Security attorneys always work on contingency. They also won’t take on your case unless they believe you qualify for SSD benefits. That means you owe $0 for expert claim help unless the SSA awards you benefits and back pay. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay your lawyer one small fee.
Want free expert SSD claim help without leaving your home? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz to see if you may qualify:
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.