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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Breast Cancer

By Eric Minghella with the Disability Benefits Center

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and can no longer work, you can file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is funded by payroll taxes and offers monthly financial compensation to disabled individuals, who at one point could work, but now are no longer able to work. As long as you have worked in the past and expect that you won’t be able to work for at least a year because of breast cancer, you may be able to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Qualifying For Social Security Disability Benefits

Many people assume that having cancer automatically qualifies them for disability benefits. Some cancer types do automatically make someone eligible for disability benefits in the U.S., but not all cancers qualify for this automatic designation. The medical conditions that qualify someone to be approved for disability benefits are all listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book along with the requirements that you must meet to qualify for benefits because of that condition. You will have to submit medical evidence that you meet the requirements in the listings.

To qualify for disability benefits because of breast cancer your cancer must meet one of these conditions:

  • An advanced breast cancer that has extended to the chest, skin, or internal mammary nodes.

  • A carcinoma (cancer started in the cells of the skin or tissue lining organs) that has spread above or below the collarbone, has spread to 10+ nearby nodes, or spread to distant regions of the chest.

  • A carcinoma that returns after anticancer therapy.

  • Small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.

You will have to submit a biopsy, mammogram, MRI scans, or any other medical documentation of your cancer that you have to the SSA when you are sending in your application. When you are applying, the SSA will let you know what paperwork to include with your application.

Medical Vocational Allowance

What happens if your breast cancer is early stage or doesn’t meet the listing requirements above but the treatment makes it impossible for you to work? Many individuals find themselves in this position. You may still be able to qualify for disability benefits with a Medical Vocational Allowance. To qualify in this regard you need to have your doctor fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation.

This is a sheet where your doctor can write in detail about your symptoms, your treatment, and why you can’t work. The SSA will look at the RFC form, your work history, your skill set, and other factors to determine if there is any kind of work that you can do with the limitations that you have. If they can’t find any jobs that you can do with the skills you have and the work limitation from breast cancer, then they may declare you eligible for disability benefits.

Filing A Claim

Don’t wait to file a claim for disability benefits. You can apply easily online. If you need help filing disability, you can make an appointment to apply in person at an SSA’s office location. Make sure you have copies of all your medical documentation, and you can submit your claim packet for disability benefits online.




Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 


Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


The Caregiver Huddle

Third Tuesday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET


Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET


Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month



July 19,  10:00 a.m. ET


Restorative Yoga:

Unearthing Opportunities

July 15 ,  5:30 p.m. ET


Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

July 22,  6:00 p.m. ET


Art Therapy

August 5, 6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

August 13, 11:30 a.m. ET


Forest Bathing

August 13,  6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

August 20,  6:00 p.m. ET


Más eventos en español


Upcoming Events


Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 


Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 


The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 


Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 


Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 


Después de un Diagnóstico