This illness is one of the most common and most deadly forms of cancer. About one in eight women, and one in eight hundred men, will contract a serious form of breast cancer during their lifetimes. Furthermore, other than lung cancer, breast cancer has the highest fatality rate in this area. The mortality rate has declined significantly for patients above 50, mostly because the body’s slower metabolism also slows the growth of dangerous tumors. For people under 50, the breast cancer death rate is only slightly lower today than it was in the 1990s. Breast cancer is even worse for people with pre-existing conditions, like COVID-19.
Traditional cancer treatments are also much more advanced than they were in the 1990s, as outlined below. Furthermore, some cutting-edge treatments are available in some cases. These medical advances have helped reduce the mortality rate. But progress isn’t cheap. Patients with aggressive breast cancer must normally spend thousands of dollars per month on treatments. Even if the patient has health insurance, the deductibles and copays are often more than most people can comfortably afford.
Social Security benefits cannot foot the entire breast cancer treatment bill. But they can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket costs. In many cases, that could almost literally be the difference between life and death. The Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm in Memphis is a totally dedicated SSA law firm. So, we understand what a difference these benefits make to families who are fighting breast cancer. Our team does what it takes to obtain the benefits you need and deserve.
Breast Cancer Detection and Treatment
Early intervention is usually the key to beating serious illnesses like breast cancer. The sooner treatment begins, the more effective it usually is.
Mammograms are usually the best breast cancer detection tool. In most cases, they are as high as 98 percent reliable. However, in other cases, they could be as little as 50-50 effective. That’s almost literally flipping a coin. So, a clinical breast examination is often a critical supplement.
These services can be available, but many people have access issues. The closest clinic isn’t very close, or it only has limited hours, or it doesn’t offer services in languages other than English. Assistance is available for these people facing these and other circumstances. Click here to learn more about the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Breast cancer screenings are usually available at low or no cost. Breast cancer treatment is much different. Usually, these expensive treatments involve a three-prong approach:
- Radiation: High doses of radiation kill tissue, including cancer cells. So, radiation therapy often shrinks tumors. That increases the odds of successful surgery. Today’s radiation treatments are much more targeted than before. So, doctors can zap tumors with high levels of radiation without causing as much collateral damage.
- Surgery: If the tumor is a manageable size, skilled doctors can often remove it. Since they are relatively far away from vital organs, like the heart and lungs, breast cancer tumors are normally easier to deal with. In extreme cases, a mastectomy (full or partial removal of one or both breasts) might be an option. But that’s a very difficult decision to make.
- Chemotherapy: Typically, once doctors have addressed the immediate danger, they prescribe chemotherapy drugs which kill fast-dividing cells, such as cancer cells. That’s why most chemotherapy patients lose their hair. Today’s drugs are stronger and have fewer side-effects than the ones previously available. Of course, that also means they cost more.
There are ancillary costs as well. Transportation is a good example. As mentioned, the closest cancer treatment center often is not very close. In some cases, monthly treatment trips to neighboring cities or other states and extended hotel stays might be almost as expensive as the medical bills. Health insurance almost never covers such costs.
Fortunately, most breast cancer patients can apply for Social Security benefits, in one form or another. These benefits can significantly ease the financial burdens these families feel.
Qualifying for SSI
Essentially, Supplemental Security Insurance is an income and asset-related program. The law includes strict income and resource exemptions, so many people do not qualify on this basis. As of November 2020, the maximum SSI benefit is $794 a month for an unmarried individual.
Furthermore, applicants must be aged, blind, or disabled. Blindness is an objective test as well. Disability is a bit more subjective, so let’s look at it more closely.
Essentially, people are disabled if their illness affects a major life area and makes it very difficult to work. As for breast cancer, the aforementioned treatments might make this illness disabling. If that’s not enough, most cancer victims deal with everyday issues, such as severe pain and limited mobility which make it difficult or impossible to function.
Qualifying for SSDI
The biggest difference between SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance is that SSDI is related to work credits. Income and resources are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how much money you’ve paid into the system while working.
Of course, there are some other differences as well. The definition of a “disability” springs immediately to mind. There is a presumption that breast cancer is a disabling condition. Furthermore, thanks to some recent legal changes, breast cancer patients go to the front of the line. That’s an important development, given the significant waiting periods which are usually part of today’s covid-era SSDI claims.
SSDI benefits are a lot higher than SSI benefits, at least in most cases. As of November 2020, the maximum monthly SSDI benefit is $3,148. That’s about four times higher than the maximum SSI monthly benefit.
The SSI disability lawyers in Memphis at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm can help you with a SSDI breast cancer appeal. We also offer a FREE consultation. It is a good idea to contact Heermans Law Firm as soon as you receive an adverse cancer screening report. Your doctor can advise you if supplemental exams may be helpful to remove the possibility of a false positive.
Supplemental Security Income applications are different, largely because the disability definition is more subjective. Sometimes, an attorney must present additional evidence of disability at an appeal hearing and this process can take several months or much longer. However, the benefit award is usually retroactive to the claim date. This is called back pay. Our attorneys can also help you assess if you independently qualify for both SSI and SSDI benefits.
If you have cancer and would like more information about the disability benefits process, contact the SSI lawyers near you at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. Let us go to work for you to get your SSI/SSDI claim approved!
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