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It isn’t the cancer itself that it is making you unable to go to work. Instead, it is the impact that the chemotherapy is having on your body that is making work impossible. Chemotherapy may be a treatment and not an illness, but its effects can be serious and long-lasting. Yet, not everyone who suffers chemotherapy side effects will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Will You?

Whether you are eligible for Social Security disability will depend on exactly how the chemotherapy has impacted you. Temporary nausea, fatigue, or difficulty concentrating that comes and goes or is likely to go away soon after treatment ends is unlikely to result in Social Security disability benefits. This is because a person is only eligible for Social Security disability if her condition is expected to result in death or last for more than one year and the other eligibility requirements have been satisfied.

However, more serious and long-term chemotherapy side effects may result in Social Security disability eligibility. For example, chemotherapy may result in:

  • Heart problems
  • Lung damage
  • Bone or joint problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Nervous system complications
  • Cognitive problems
  • Vision problems
  • Secondary Cancers
  • Other serious complications

The American Society of Clinical Oncology encourages patients undergoing chemotherapy to talk to their doctors about these risks.

What to Do if You Think You Qualify for Social Security Disability Because of the Effect of Chemo

If chemotherapy has resulted in your permanent disability, it is important to see your doctor to determine if there is any treatment available. You should follow your doctor’s treatment plan and begin gathering documentation for your Social Security disability application. Your medical records, including any treatments you have received, will be important to your eligibility determination. Other important documents will include evidence of your work history and education.

To learn more about what’s important to your eligibility determination, please read our FREE book, Social Security Disability What You Need to Know.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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