By Deanna Power
Did you know that a leiomyosarcoma (LMS) diagnosis sometimes automatically medically qualifies for Social Security disability benefits? The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly resources for people with serious conditions who are unable to work. Medically qualifying with LMS is usually straightforward and can help you pay for medical bills, transportation costs, housing for your family during treatments, and any other daily living expenses.
LMS and the Blue Book
The “Blue Book” is a medical guide used by the SSA to determine if an applicant is ill enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. There are hundreds of listings in the Blue Book, plus the medical criteria needed to qualify.
Fortunately, LMS will always medically qualify if you have medical evidence showing one of the following:
- Your LMS has spread beyond a local region or to another organ
- LMS has returned despite a round of treatment (surgery, radiation, etc.)
- Your LMS is inoperable
All of these types of LMS will also qualify as a “Compassionate Allowance,” which is a condition that’s clearly disabling and warrants expedited review. This means that if you meet one of the above criteria, your claim could be approved in as little as 10 days.
Qualifying Without the Blue Book
If your LMS has been caught at an earlier stage, you might not meet a Blue Book listing for cancer. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to qualify! You’ll need to prove that you’ll be out of work for at least one year to be approved. This type of approval is known as a Medical Vocational Allowance. For example, someone who is scheduled to have a sarcoma removed and then receive chemotherapy for a year following the procedure might be eligible.
Qualifying for a Medical Vocational Allowance will rely heavily on your work experience. People who’ve always done sedentary work (marketers, programmers, salespeople) will have a tougher time qualifying than those who will be on their feet all day, or who need extreme concentration (cooks, drivers, construction workers, warehouse employees, etc.).
To show how much or how little work you’re able to do during your treatments, you can ask your doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation on your behalf. An RFC is a standard SSA form that determines how much weight you can lift, how long you can sit or stand, if you’re affected by nausea, and more. You can download an RFC online for your doctor to fill out when you see her next.
Starting Your Application
Most people with LMS can complete the entire application process online on the SSA’s website. If you’d prefer to get assistance applying, you can also apply in person at your closest Social Security office. Make an appointment by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
It should take three to five months to be approved, but again, people with advanced LMS could be approved in just a couple of weeks. If you have children under age 18 or an eligible spouse, they might be able to receive additional benefits on your behalf. You can spend your monthly payments on your medical bills, childcare, groceries, rent or a mortgage, or any other daily living needs. Disability benefits allow you to focus on what’s important: your health.