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Can I qualify for disability with melanoma if I have had a remission period?
I was diagnosed Melanoma stage 4, and have undergone surgery and radiation. I understand that Stage 4 Melanoma is an automatic qualifier for SSDI, since it is considered terminal.
I chose to continue to work for as long as I can and have been NED (basically in remission) for over 6 years now. Although I am NED, working has become increasingly more stressful and I have been deveoping increased pain and difficulty moving around. The Stage 4 cancer will never improve, and remission is not gauranteed to continue.
Will the 6 year period of being in remission restrict me from qualifying for SSDI, even though my prognosis is not expected to improve? The pain and increased stress are making it more difficult to maintain working. I am currently 60 years old.
Social Security Disability is more about functional limitations rather than a specific diagnosis. If you are working full time, you would not be able to receive Social Security Disability. If, however, your condition forces you to stop work or reduce your earnings to under one thousand and ninety dollars per month, which is the substantial and gainful income limit for applicants and recipients at this moment (to see the current SGA earnings limit), you can file for disability. Keep in mind that that amount is a gross income amount, not net take home pay per month.
In your case, you have a diagnosis of stage 4 Melanoma, but you are in remission. I am really not sure how Social Security would look at it. It could go either way since you have had the diagnosis for six years and you have maintained employment. Also, you have not gone out of remission.
However, you must always remember that being approved for disability is more a matter of the functional limitations you possess, not the condition itself.
This page illustrates this fact: If you file for Social Security Disability or SSI disability and are approved for benefits, the approval will happen in one of two ways.
You may have limitations that are related to all of the treatment you have received as a result of the Melanoma and that could be in your favor. You are also at a good age for the Social Security vocational guidelines to allow for a medical vocational allowance (the vocational grid rules begin to favor individuals at 50 and then even more at 55).
I would also like to say if you can hold out until age 62 you can file for both retirement and disability simultaneously. This would mean you would have income while you wait for a disability decision.
All things to consider if you are thinking you might wish to file for disability. I hope this helps and I hope things go well.
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The Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSD) and SSI – How are they different Part II
For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
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