• Christopher Le

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits for Ovarian Cancer

From chemotherapy to surgery, ovarian cancer treatment can be life changing. If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you expect to be out of work for several months, maybe longer, you might be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers these much-needed financial resources to millions of people in need.


Medical Qualifications for Disability Benefits

Not every woman with ovarian cancer will “automatically” qualify for disability benefits. The SSA uses its own medical criteria also known as the Blue Book to evaluate every applicant who filed for Social Security disability. The Blue Book contains hundreds of potentially qualifying illnesses, and which specific testing or symptoms you’ll need medical documentation of to be approved.


Ovarian cancer is found under section 13.23 of the Blue Book. Under this listing, there are various ways for you to medically qualify:

  1. Your cancer is not a germ cell tumor, and has at least one of the following:

· Extension beyond the pelvis, such as to the bowels

· Spread past regional lymph nodes

· Returned despite anticancer therapy (usually 3 months will qualify)


2. Your ovarian cancer is germ cell, and it has returned since your initial anticancer therapy.

3. Your cancer is small cell/oat cell, which is usually aggressive and more challenging to treat.


Medically Qualifying Without Meeting a Listing

Even if you don't meet the blue book criteria doesn't mean your claim is dead. You can still be approved in other ways. People who do not meet a listing under the blue book but can still prove they’re unable to work can receive disability benefits under what’s called a Medical Vocational Allowance.

You can qualify for a Medical Vocational Allowance, also know as the GRID rules, if your chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or other anticancer therapies will have side effects so severe that render you unable to work. The SSA considers “work” to be earning more than $1,350 per month in 2022. Typically, older adults will have a much easier time qualifying under a Medical Vocational Allowance than younger individuals. This is because the SSA believes applicants aged 50 and older will have a much harder time getting retrained for a different line of work if all they have known is a specific trade all their life.

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