Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t always make it easy for those with colorectal cancer to get the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits they deserve.
Many claims are denied because SSA says:
(1) Your colorectal cancer doesn’t meet the requirements of or is the equivalent of a Medical Listing,
(2) You can return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled, or
(3) There is other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity.
Not all cases of colorectal cancer are severe enough to make you eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, but Nancy Cavey has successfully represented many SSA applicants with colorectal cancer. She works to overcome the claims denial by working closely with you and your physician to show that you:
- Qualify for the Compassionate Allowances program,
- Meet the requirements for a disability listing, or that
- Your limitations are too great for you to work at your old job or any other job in the national economy in view of your age, education and transferable work skills.
She offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your Social Security disability claim.
What Is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine called the colon, and rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of your colon. Collectively, these cancers are known as colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer starts with polyps that, over time, can become cancerous.
There are four stages in colon cancer:
- Stage I cancer has grown through the lining or mucosa of the colon or rectum.
- Stage II cancer has grown into or through the wall of the colon or rectum.
- Stage III cancer has invaded nearby lymph nodes, and
- Stage IV cancer has spread to other organs such as your liver or lungs.
To examine the colon, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy or a CT of the colon. The disability carrier will accept these studies as objective basis of the diagnosis, but these studies do not document the severity of your restrictions and limitations. It is key that your symptoms be developed in your medical records and your physician comment on how those symptoms cause restrictions and limitations on your ability to work.
What Are The Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
The symptoms can include:
- A change in bowel habits with diarrhea or constipation,
- A change in the consistency of your stool,
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool,
- Abdominal cramping, pain or gas,
- A sensation that your bowel doesn’t completely empty,
- Weakness or fatigue, and
- Unexplained weight loss.
It can be difficult to work with these symptoms or the side effects of treatment.
The Compassionate Allowances Program and Colon Cancer
Social Security Disability applicants who have colon cancer that has/is:
- Distant Metastasis,
- Recurrent, or
may qualify for a compassionate allowance that can result in an award of benefits in approximately six weeks. If you don’t qualify under the Compassionate Allowances program, you may be entitled to benefits if you meet a Listing.
When Your Colorectal Cancer Meets A Listing
Colorectal cancer is included in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” under Section 13.00, Malignant Neoplastic Disease or 13.18. If you meet or have the equivalent of a Listing, your Social Security disability benefits will be awarded at Step 3 of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation.
Your medical records must establish that you meet every element of the Listing for your colorectal cancer to be considered disabling. SSA will review your medical records and look for the following:
- A specific colon cancer diagnosis,
- A history of your symptoms,
- Findings on physical examination that are consistent with a colon cancer diagnosis,
- Results of objective medical testing confirming the diagnosis,
- Operative reports,
- Treatment recommendations and your compliance with those recommendations, and
- Medication side effects.
If you don’t meet or equal a listing, SSA will determine your entitlement to benefits based on medical and vocational criteria at Steps 4 and 5.
When Your Colon Cancer Makes It Impossible to Work
If your colon cancer doesn’t meet a listing, you will have to prove that you:
- Can’t return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled (PRW), and
- There isn’t any other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity (RFC).
SSA or, ultimately an Administrative Law Judge, will answer those questions by determining your residual functional capacity. Your RFC is what you can do despite your colon cancer.
Residual Functional Capacity For Colon Cancer
The SSA will review your medical records at the Initial Application and Reconsideration stage of the claims process and determine your functional capacity to perform sedentary, light, medium and heavy work.
SSA medical consultants often opine that a Social Security Disability applicant can do light and sedentary work, and that will result in a claims denial. The lower your RFC the more likely that you can’t return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years or perform other work. SSA doesn’t tell applicants or physicians about the existence and importance of properly completed colon cancer RFC forms that will explain:
- How far you can walk,
- How long you can stand and sit at one time and for an eight-hour day,
- How much and how often you can lift, stoop, squat, bend during an eight- hour day,
- What problems you have with fatigue,
- What problems you have from the treatment, including chemo fog or tingling or numbness of the hands or feet,
- Whether you have to take unscheduled restroom breaks, and if so how many and how often,
- Whether you have good days and bad days and how many days per month you would miss from work, and
- Whether you have psychological problems that would interfere with your ability to work.
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the questions on a colon cancer RFC form. But you can see that having an explanation of what you can do physically, cognitively and emotionally is key to winning your case.
Many SSA cases are lost because the applicant did not obtain an RFC or the right RFC form, or because their treating physician didn’t properly complete the RFC form. That is one of the many reasons you should have an experienced Social Security attorney like Nancy L. Cavey represent you in your claim.
How Your Residual Functional Capacity Is Used At A Social Security Hearing
Many claims are denied both at the Initial Application and Request For Reconsideration Stages of the claims process.
At the hearing stage, the Administrative Law Judge will determine your RFC and give hypotheticals to the vocational evaluator (VE) who will testify at your hearing. The judge will ask the VE to take into consideration your RFC, as determined by the judge, your age, education and prior work experience in determining:
- Whether you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years,
- Whether there is other work you can do or could learn to do.
It is crucial that you are represented at a hearing to make sure the right questions are asked of the VE.
How Do I Get The Social Security Disability Benefits I Deserve?
If you no longer can work because of colon cancer or the side effects of treatment or your doctor has told you to apply for Social Security disability, you should hire Nancy Cavey to help you:
- File your initial Social Security Disability application. The application process is confusing and designed so you make mistakes that can result in a delay or even a denial of your benefits.
- Appeal a wrongful denial of your Social Security disability application or Request for Reconsideration.
- File an Application for Hearing and represent you at the hearing with the Administrative Law Judge who will decide if you get benefits. She will have your physician, if possible, complete the right RFC(s), prepare you for the hearing, prepare a hearing brief, and be prepared to cross-examine the VE.
The SSA is in the business of denying claims and will use any reason to deny your benefits. The odds of getting your Social Security benefits are greater when you are represented by an experienced Social Security Disability attorney like Ms. Cavey.
Contact Social Security Disability Attorney Nancy L. Cavey, Who Can Help You Regardless of Where You Live in Florida
You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today! Ms. Cavey can explain the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation process used in every claim, the claims process and how to get your disability benefits for colon cancer. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.