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How to Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits With Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer and women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer at some point. Those odds are higher if you have a family history of breast cancer. If you develop breast cancer you can apply for Social Security disability costs to help you pay for living expenses while you are too sick to work. The only requirement for applying for Social Security disability benefits is that you expect to be unable to work for at least a year. 

Social Security Disability Benefits for Breast Cancer

All of the conditions that qualify for Social Security disability benefits are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. Your condition and diagnosis must meet the criteria in the Blue Book in order for your application for benefits to be approved. The Blue Book listing for breast cancer is very specific and it states that in order to qualify for benefits your breast cancer must meet at least one of these requirements:

  • A Stage 3 or higher breast cancer that has extended to the chest, skin, or internal mammary nodes. 
  • A carcinoma 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. 

Typically any cancer that is Stage 3 or higher qualifies for Compassionate Allowance, which means that your benefits will get started quickly. But if your breast cancer is still in an early stage and you do not meet the Blue Book listing but you are going to be disabled by the treatment to stop the cancer, you can still get disability benefits if you apply for a Medical Vocational Allowance.

Medical Vocational Allowance

To apply for Social Security disability benefits for breast cancer with a Medical Vocational Allowance you can fill out the application for Social Security disability benefits and request a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation. A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation will determine whether or not there is some type of work that you can do during your treatment. If it’s determined that there is no work you can do with the skills that you have during your treatment you can get disability benefits. You can download an RFC form online to have your doctor fill out on your behalf.

Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online at any time. If you are having trouble with the application or if you want ask questions as you complete the application, you can make an appointment at your local Social Security Administration office and fill out the application in person. If you fill out the application in person you can get help from an SSA employee or you can bring a spouse, friend, family member, or caregiver with you to help you fill out the application. 

You will need to have medical documentation of your breast cancer like a diagnosis, treatment plan, or test results to submit with your application. If you are not sure what documentation you need you can ask your oncologist what documentation you should submit with your claim for Social Security disability benefits.


Neighborhood Healthcare 
Blue Book
Blue Book Listing for Breast Cancer
Compassionate Allowances
Residual Functional Capacity Form
Apply Here
Local SSA Office