Benign Brain Tumors and Social Security Disability
When people hear the phrase “brain tumor”, they most often associate it with cancer. Many don’t realize that non-cancerous, or benign, brain tumors are also very common and can be just as harmful. A benign brain tumor can affect a person’s hearing, vision, balance, speech, concentration, and memory. These symptoms can make it impossible to perform daily tasks and even maintain employment. If you have a benign brain tumor and can no longer work or earn a living, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides SSD benefits through two separate programs:
SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)
If you held a job prior to becoming disabled, any Social Security taxes that you paid were contributed to the SSDI program. This program offers benefits to disabled workers and their qualified family members. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned a specific number of work credits throughout your career. Work credits are used by the SSA to measure a person’s employment history and the amount of taxes they have paid. Find out how many work credits you need, here: Qualify for SSDI Benefits. (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi)
SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may still be able to qualify for SSI. SSI is a needs-based program offered to disabled and elderly individuals. To qualify for this program you must meet certain financial criteria. As of 2013, you must earn less than $710 a month as an individual or $1,060 per month as a couple. Your financial assets cannot exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple. To learn more about SSI, visit the following page: Qualify for SSI Benefits. (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi)
The Social Security Blue Book
In addition to the technical eligibility requirements, you must also meet other disability-related criteria. You can find these criteria in the SSA’s blue book—the official publication that contains listings of all conditions that can potentially qualify an individual for SSD benefits. Under each condition, you will find a list of specific medical requirements. To be considered disabled by the SSA, you must meet the requirements of a blue book listing.
The SSA states that individuals with benign brain tumors will be evaluated based on symptoms and laboratory findings to determine the severity and duration of their impairment.
Under blue book listing 11.05- Benign Brain Tumors, the SSA notes that all benign brain tumors will be evaluated under a listing for the affected body system or under one of the following listings:
- 11.02- Convulsive Epilepsy
To qualify under this listing your brain tumor must cause seizures or loss of consciousness during daytime hours; or night time episodes that interfere with a person’s ability to function during the day.
- 11.03- Non-Convulsive Epilepsy
To qualify under this listing, your brain tumor must cause seizures that result in alteration of awareness or unconventional behavior during daytime hours.
- 11.04- Central Nervous System Vascular Accident
To qualify under this listing, your brain tumor must have caused you to have a stroke or otherwise cause symptoms that mimic the symptoms of a stroke including: ineffective speech or communication and difficulty moving, standing, or walking.
If you do not meet these specific listings, it is important that you meet with your doctor to determine which body system your brain tumor affects and what blue book listing best meets your symptoms. You can find all of the blue book listings on the SSA’s website: (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm)
If you do not meet or match a blue book listing, you can still qualify for benefits based on a medical vocational allowance. To do so, you must be able to prove that your brain tumor keeps you from performing day to day activities and prevents you from adjusting to different types of work.
Applying for Social Security Disability
You can apply for disability benefits online or at your local Social Security office. You will need to fill out a number of forms including the Adult Disability Checklist, the Adult Disability Report, and the disability application itself. Make sure that you also provide copies of all relevant medical documentation including clinical histories and treatment reports, to expedite the application process. You will receive a decision regarding your benefits approximately three to six months from the date of your application.
Appealing a Denial
If you are denied benefits, you have 60 days from the date of your denial notice to file an appeal. Most appeals take approximately two years to complete. If you are facing these circumstances it may be in your best interests to retain the services of a disability attorney. Statistics have shown that applicants who retain legal representation are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who try to represent themselves.
Although applying for Social Security Disability benefits may seem like an overwhelming process, it is often a necessary step for individuals with benign brain tumors. Once you receive disability benefits you will be able to stop worrying about money and start focusing on your health.
For more information about applying for Social Security Disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog) or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.