Applying for Disability Benefits with Breast or Ovarian Cancer

Today we're offering a guest post from Ram Meyyappan, a blogger for Social Security Disability Help. The post discusses how to apply for Social Security Disability for breast or ovarian cancer. For posts on related topics, visit the Social Security Disability Blog.

Many forms of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancers, can qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, but all must generally be in advanced stages in order to meet the severity level requirements for eligibility under the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) rules.

Meeting the Blue Book Requirements

Though a diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer of any stage is a devastating blow to receive, and while the disease itself and the treatment you must undergo may put you off of work on short term or long term disability, not all cancers of these kinds can meet the Blue Book listings for disability benefits.

The Blue Book is the manual of impairments that the SSA uses to evaluate disability benefit applications. In order to meet the Blue Book listing, you must provide the SSA with significant detail about your cancer, including specific medical records.

The Breast Cancer Listing

Section 13.10 of the Blue Book is the dedicated listing for all forms of breast cancer. While section 13.10 specifically reference breast carcinoma, applications filed for other forms of breast cancer are also compared to this listing to see if they are a close match. Applications that precisely meet the listing qualify for benefits, but it is also possible for close matches to meet the SSA's eligibility requirements too.

To meet this listing, your breast cancer must:

  • Present with a tumor or tumors that are adhered to your skin or chest wall, or with cancer that has spread from the original tumor to any node of your mammary glands


  • Have metastasized to 10 or more mammary nodes or to distant locations


  • Have come back or advanced after a period of successful therapy and remission.

It is important to note that breast cancer that recurs locally, without any metastases, and which responses to chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatment, does not meet this Blue Book listing.

It is also important to note that if your cancer originated in another part of your body and has spread to your breasts, then your application for benefits will instead be evaluated under the listing for the body system in which the cancer started.

For more information on qualifying with breast cancer, visit: 

The Ovarian Cancer Listing

Ovarian cancer is evaluated by the SSA under the Blue Book listing in Section 13.23E. If you suffer from a form of germ-cell cancer of the ovaries, then any recurrence or advancement in the disease after completing your first round of treatment is sufficient to qualify for disability benefits. For all other forms of ovarian cancer, the following applies:

  • A tumor or tumors that have extended beyond the pelvic area


  • Metastatic tumors in nearby or distant lymph nodes


  • Recurrent cancer after undergoing your first round of treatment.

For more information on qualifying with ovarian cancer visit:

Compassionate Allowances

Very advanced forms of breast and ovarian cancer qualify for rapid review and approval under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program, which ensures your application is reviewed in just a few weeks and that you do not have to provide the SSA with as much medical and other documentation to prove your disability case.

CAL designation does not entirely remove the requirements for eligibility however. You must still complete the full application for benefits and must still provide specific medical records to the SSA, documenting the diagnosis, location and characteristics of your tumors, the type of treatment you have undergone, and the prognosis.

The SSA's Disability Programs

There are two forms of disability benefits for which you may qualify with breast or ovarian cancer:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Both of these programs require you meet the medical eligibility rules for receiving benefits. Both also have technical or financial eligibility requirements you must meet.

For SSI, there are income and other financial resource limitations. For SSDI on the other hand, you must have work credits from your previous employment and must not exceed $1,070 per month in income from employment.

For more information on SSDI and SSI visit:

Applying for Benefits

When you are ready to apply for benefits, you can complete your application online, via the SSA's website ( or submit your application in person, during an in-person interview with an SSA representative at your local office.

Regardless of how you decide to apply, ensure you are prepared with all the necessary information. The SSA's disability starter kit will help you know the types of records and other documentation needed for the application process.

If you choose to apply in person at your local office, call ahead to schedule an appointment in order to avoid further delays. The SSA's main helpline, 1-800-772-1213, is the number to call.

Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help

For posts on related topics, visit the Social Security Disability Blog.