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Social Security Disability Law Blog

What will be considered when awarding benefits for cancer?

As discussed in our last post, cancer is a very prevalent disease not just in Tennessee, but worldwide. The Social Security Administration recognizes this, and includes cancer in its Listing of Impairments, known as the "Blue Book." It is important to understand, therefore, what the Social Security Administration will look for when considering applications for disability benefits based on cancer.

When evaluating cancer for the purposes of Social Security disability benefits, the SSA will consider the origin of the cancer and the extent of its involvement. It will also consider how long and how frequent the applicant had anticancer therapy, and the applicant's response to it. Finally, the SSA will consider any effects of post-therapeutic residuals.

Cancer rates growing worldwide, study says

Cancer is a disease that gets -- and deserves -- a lot of attention. Football players wear pink for breast cancer awareness, and people donate their hair to those who lose their hair due to chemotherapy. It is not unusual these days for people in the United States to know of someone who has had cancer, or have even had cancer themselves. In fact, one study reports that the number of cancer cases is on the rise.

A recent study by the Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration reports that the number of cancer cases went up 33 percent across the world over the past decade. In 2015, approximately 17.5 million people were diagnosed with cancer worldwide, and 8.7 million people died because of the disease. Researchers believe that a growing and aging population was behind the uptick in cancer cases, as were fluctuations in cancer rates among specific ages.

How are Social Security disability applications processed?

Most people want to be productive members of society. They want to be self-sufficient. However, for some people, despite putting their best efforts towards a job that they love, an illness or injury is preventing them from working. When a person becomes totally disabled and completely unable to earn a living, he or she may apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, they may not have a clear understanding what happens once their application is submitted.

In general, an application for SSD benefits will first be processed by an area Social Security Administration field office and then by a state agency, known as Disability Determination Services. A representative will receive the application, whether it was submitted online, through the U.S. postal service, over the phone or in person. The field office is tasked with the duty of verifying non-medical eligibility requirements such as a person's age and marital status.

Those with multiple impairments can apply for SSD benefits

Sometimes a person can suffer from several illnesses or injuries all at once. Perhaps, on their own, just one of these illnesses or injuries would not suffice to disable the person. But when they are combined together, they do disable the person to the point that they are unable to work, despite their best efforts. For example, a person could have a physical impairment, such as a respiratory or cardiovascular problem, and also have a mental impairment such as depression or anxiety.

The cumulative effect of having more than one disability can affect a person's day-to-day life. This is especially true when the condition flares-up or reoccurs. A person may have to take a lot of time off of work, and may also deal with worsening symptoms at times. When multiple disorders combine, it can make it so that holding down a job is simply no longer feasible.

What is the SSI wage reporting requirement?

Adults and children anywhere in the U.S. but especially in Knoxville, with disabilities who have not worked often rely on Supplemental Security Income to augment their daily living and medical expenses. SSI is meant to help low-income individuals who have not paid into the Social Security system through wage deductions. Therefore, if a person who receives SSI either lives with a spouse or parent who works, or works him or herself, he or she must report these wages to the Social Security Administration.

A person in such a situation needs to consistently inform the SSA of his or her wages within the first six days of each month. The purpose of wage reporting is to ensure the SSI recipient receives the right amount of benefits, that is, avoids receiving either underpayments or overpayments. The SSI program is based on a person's financial needs and has income requirements, so in general the more income a recipient has, the lower his or her SSI benefits will be.

Severe arthritis can lead to a disability

Residents of Knoxville may think that arthritis is an affliction that only affects the elderly. However, there are actually over 100 ailments that fall under the umbrella of "arthritis" that can affect people of any age. In fact, according to one source, one in five individuals in the U.S. suffers from some form of arthritis. Therefore, it is important to understand more about arthritis, particularly if it has become a disabling condition for you.

In general, arthritis causes joint pain. A person may experience stiffness or swelling in his or her joints, or his or her joints may feel warm to the touch or appear to be red in color. The person's joints may be tender and he or she may have difficulty moving them. These symptoms can come and go, or they can be constant. In addition, the pain felt can range from mild to severe. Particularly severe cases could lead to permanent damage to the afflicted joints.

Liver disease such as cirrhosis can be a disabling condition

Our bodies are truly amazing, but it often isn't until something goes wrong that many in Knoxville fully appreciate it. Moreover, some diseases stay hidden, only manifesting themselves after months or even years of damage. One such disease is liver disease, in particular, cirrhosis of the liver.

The role of the liver is to detoxify harmful substances, cleanse the blood and create nutrients essential to survival. When a person's liver is harmed, it will repair itself. However, scar tissue will be formed in repairing process. The more scar tissue there is, the harder it is for the liver to carry out its roles. When a person has cirrhosis, their liver has become scarred due to a variety of health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, hepatitis, certain infections, alcoholism and many other illnesses. Cirrhosis is a late stage condition of such diseases, and any damage caused by it may be permanent.

Blind individuals in Knoxville can seek disability benefits

While some people in Knoxville who are blind may find they are able to work, they may not be able to earn enough income to fully support themselves. Moreover, others elsewhere in the U.S. who are blind may find that their condition prevents them from being gainfully employed altogether. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes this and has two programs to financially help those who are blind: Social Security disability (SSD) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The medical requirements necessary to determine whether a person is considered blind for the purpose of receiving benefits are the same for both programs. First of all, a person will be determined to be blind if his or her vision is not able to be corrected to be better than 20/200 in the person's good eye, or if the person's visual field is 20 degrees or less in the person's good eye. In addition, even if a person doesn't meet this definition of blindness, he or she could still seek benefits if his or her vision problems combined with other health issues keep him or her from being gainfully employed.

What information is helpful when a disability claim is rejected?

It is an unfortunate fact, but despite their desperate need, many people in Knoxville and all over the United States who apply for Social Security disability benefits will have their initial claim denied. However, that is not the end of the story for these individuals. It is possible to appeal these decisions. If a person's application was denied for medical reasons, that person may be able to appeal the decision online. If they choose to do that, it is important to collect certain pieces of information before starting.

First of all, a person should have on hand certain types of personal information. Some of it is very basic, such as the person's name, address, phone number and Social Security number. However, it is also important to have on hand the date that the person's SSD benefits claim was denied, along with the representative's name, phone number and address.

Can workers' compensation benefits affect one's SSD benefits?

If a person in Knoxville or anywhere else in the U.S. is injured or falls ill while on-the-job, he or she may initially apply for and receive workers' compensation benefits. As time marches on, the person may still be unable to work and will continue to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, after a year or more, it may become apparent that the person will be unable to return back to any kind of work, and he or she may seek Social Security disability benefits (SSD.) When this happens, the person may wonder if he or she can continue to receive workers' compensation benefits or other public benefits while receiving SSD benefits at the same time.

The short answer is, yes, a person can receive both workers' compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits. However, the amount of SSD benefits the person will be entitled to may be reduced if the combined amount of the person's workers' compensation benefits along with other public disability benefits is over 80 percent of the person's average wages he or she earned before suffering the injury or illness that has made him or her disabled. That being said, disability benefits obtained from a private pension or insurance policy will not have an effect on a person's SSD benefits.

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