March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so the Social Security Administration just released the most recent numbers on the number of people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance because they’re totally disabled from work due to colorectal cancer or closely related cancers. The agency says that, in 2011, almost 30,000 people were receiving SSDI benefits for the cancer or its complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, colorectal cancer is the second deadliest type of cancer in the U.S. If that’s the case, it may represent a significant uptick in deaths from the cancer since 2009, when it ranked behind lung cancer and prostate cancer in terms of death rate. On average, the CDC says, more than 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, and more than 50,000 die.
As many as 60 percent of those deaths could have been prevented if they had been detected early through a routine colonoscopy.
“Colorectal cancer is a serious condition and one of the more prevalent types of cancer affecting the ability to work,” said a representative from Allsup, an SSD claims services company.
In addition to the sometimes disabling symptoms of the cancer itself, treatment through radiation and chemotherapy of the colon can cause fatigue, drowsiness and dizziness. If the cancer symptoms or the side-effects of treatment are expected to keep the patient from working for at least a year, the side-effects themselves could qualify the patient for Social Security disability.
Complications from colorectal cancer treatment can also result in long-term disability that could qualify for Social Security disability. For example, radiation and chemotherapy treatments can sometimes cause peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in the extremities. If serious enough, it can keep the sufferer from being able to effectively use his or her hands and feet.
If you’re suffering from a condition that does or could qualify you for SSDI benefits, it’s essential to tell your doctor what symptoms you’re suffering and make sure they get documented in your medical record, the Allsup representative says. The medical records need to substantiate their SSDI claims so the SSA may render a fair decision,” he explains.
If you’re over 50 or have a history of cancer in your family, consider getting a colonoscopy this March. The CDC says that colonoscopies sharply reduce the chance you’ll wind up with late-stage, hard-to-treat colon cancer. 9 out of 10 people whose colorectal cancer is caught early are still alive five years later.
Source: Stltoday.com, “Social Security Disability Key Consideration for Those With Colorectal Cancer, Allsup Reports,” Bryan Clix, March 13, 2013