Mesothelioma

Living with a disability is difficult enough without the stress of loss of income due to an inability to work. Fortunately, there is assistance available for people who have worked in the past. Social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits may be available to people who suffer from mesothelioma.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Cancerous cells quickly spread in the lungs and abdomen when a person suffers from mesothelioma. There are three types of mesothelioma. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the protective lining of the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdomen, while pericardial mesothelioma is present in the cardiac chamber of a sufferer.

It is possible for a person to have a benign case of mesothelioma, but it is much more common for malignant tumors to be present. Medical professionals often have difficulty diagnosing mesothelioma due to the symptoms that are similar to symptoms experienced in other illnesses. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, bowel obstruction and blood clotting disorders.

Unfortunately, the difficulty in diagnosing mesothelioma means that many people who have malignant forms of the cancer are not properly diagnosed and treated until the cancer has progressed. Mesothelioma is also an extremely aggressive type of cancer. A diagnosis of mesothelioma often means that a sufferer will only survive for between one and two years.

The exact survival rate for mesothelioma depends upon factors including location of cancerous cells, stage of the disease and whether the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. Treatment options also depend upon these factors. If the cancer is contained to one part of the body and is in early stages, surgery may be recommended to remove tumors. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery to ensure that any cancerous cells left behind are destroyed.

Radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors. Innovative forms of radiation treatment are typically used in mesothelioma cases. This is because of the importance of avoiding damage to healthy tissue located near the heart and lungs.

What is SSDI?

SSDI is an insurance program that is managed by the federal government. Benefits are paid out by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a government organization that is tasked with reviewing applications and determining whether to approve or deny them. The program is funded through paycheck deductions, and one of the requirements of qualifying for benefits is work history. The amount of work history that a person must have in order to qualify will depend on their age and how long they have been disabled. Work history generally must be recent.

Getting SSDI for Mesothelioma

The SSA recognizes malignant mesothelioma as a disability, but the problem with receiving benefits due to a mesothelioma diagnosis is the fact that this cancer is so difficult to diagnose. People who have been exposed to asbestos and suspect that symptoms of an illness may be related to this cancer should be proactive about informing their medical providers about the possibility. When medical providers are informed about risk factors, tests may be performed to determine whether mesothelioma is the source of symptoms. X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are often used to aid in diagnosis efforts, and the results of these tests must be provided to the SSA as part of the application process.

The SSA requires thorough medical records that include detailed information about symptoms, tests and treatment plans. In the case of mesothelioma, disability benefits may not be paid until an applicant proves that treatment options have been unsuccessful in removing tumors and managing symptoms.

Getting Help from an Attorney

Applying for SSDI benefits can be a confusing process. The requirements outlined by the SSA are strict, and failure to comply with these requirements may lead to a denial when a valid disability exists. The stressful process of applying for SSDI benefits may be made more manageable through help from an attorney. SSDI lawyers are knowledgeable about the SSA’s requirements and are able to use their experience and understanding of regulations to help their clients navigate the application process. Living with a disability is difficult enough without the added stress of applying for much-needed benefits. To make the process less overwhelming, consult with an experienced SSDI attorney.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.