Long-Term Disability for Individuals with Cancer and Chemo Brain

You’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or you’re undergoing treatment for cancer that has debilitating side effects. What are your chances of obtaining long-term disability benefits while you recover?

First, unless you purchased a long-term disability policy at work or on your own, your only options are disability claims under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs of the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Let’s assume you do have a work-based or personal LTD policy. Will that policy cover you regardless of the stage your cancer is in, or regardless of the side effects that you feel make it impossible to continue working?

The answer, of course, hinges on how your policy defines disability and on how well you can medically document what you feel to be your disabling condition.

If you are suffering from cancer or cancer treatment side effects and you wish to file a disability claim under your LTD policy, contact Beedem Law. We serve clients in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota, nearby in St. Paul or Duluth, or anywhere in the counties of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Anoka. Our attorneys are ready with resources to help you press your claim and fight for the benefits you deserve.

The Financial and Personal Costs of Cancer and Chemo Brain

Fighting cancer, depending on the stage to which it’s progressed, can be long, personally debilitating, and financially devastating—even with health insurance. In addition, time lost from work for treatment or recovery that is uncompensated can only lead to more devastating financial consequences.

When you are treated for cancer, debilitating side effects can result, including reduced cognitive function—referred to as ‘chemo brain’—such as forgetfulness, foggy brain, inability to focus, shortened attention span, difficulty multitasking or learning new skills, and more.

Though the term derives from persons who are treated with chemotherapy, other cancer treatments can likely result in cognitive challenges, including radiation, hormone therapy, and surgery.

Qualifying for LTD Benefits

Cancer comes in four stages, which are progressive. Stage 1 is a concentration of cancerous cells limited to one part of the body. Stage 2 represents the first growth stage, where cells spread to nearby lymph nodes. Stage 3 continues the spread of lymph nodes still farther afield. Stage 4 sees the cancer cells metastasize to still further parts of the body.

To file a claim for LTD benefits, you first need to look at how your policy defines disability and then at whether it awards benefits based on your inability to perform the functions of your current job, or the functions of any job based on your training, education, and experience. 

Some policies will award benefits for the first two years because your disability prevents you from working your current job, and then the “any occupation” clause kicks in. If you can work any job at that point, your benefits may be discontinued.

If you’re filing an LTD benefits claim based on cancer, it’s rare for Stage 1 claims to be honored. If your cancer has reached Stage 2 or 3 and you have severe symptoms, your claim has a better chance of being granted. Stage 4 cancer patients qualify for LTD benefits upon submission of validating medical documentation.

If your claim is based on chemo brain, once again you’ll need to medically show severe symptoms that are keeping you from working. However, the treatments that lead to chemo brain-like symptoms generally run their course in a few weeks’ or months’ time, which could make it difficult to qualify for LTD benefits. 

Proving Your LTD Claim

When you submit your claim, you are going to have to document your illness and resulting disability with as much medical evidence as possible. Insurers love to cite “insufficient medical evidence” in denying a claim. Full medical documentation includes bone scans, biopsies, CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, and ultrasounds. In addition, the documentation should include relevant notes from your physician or oncologist.

Work With Long-Term Disability Benefits Attorneys

Filing a claim for LTD benefits is not a simple process like filling out a form that your insurance company supplies. You’re going to need not only actual medical records, but also diagnoses and prognoses from your medical professionals treating you.

At Beedem Law, we have been dealing with LTD insurers for decades and can help you navigate the claims system. If you’re denied, we can help you file an appeal. Contact us immediately for a free consultation if you’re in or around Minneapolis and are pursuing an LTD claim.


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