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“The SSA uses the Adult Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book, to determine whether your colon cancer is severe enough to make you eligible for disability benefits.”

If you have colon cancer, you might need some help with your finances after you step away from your job because of your illness. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can send you a monthly benefit check, if you meet all of the guidelines. You are probably experiencing financial strain if your health makes you unable to work. It could help your situation, if you could answer the question, Can I get Social Security disability benefits for colon cancer?

The SSA will begin the evaluation process by looking into the severity of your colon cancer and how it affects your life. The agency will then explore non-medical factors, like whether you can work any type of job, how much money you can make and your work history.

How Severe Your Colon Cancer Must be for SSDI Benefits

The SSA uses the Adult Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book, to determine whether your colon cancer is severe enough to make you eligible for disability benefits. You will have to provide medical documentation to the SSA.

The colon, also called the large intestine, includes the cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum. The Blue Book includes every part of the body from the ileocecal valve to and including the anal canal in the category of cancer of the large intestine.

The SSA will consider these forms of large intestine cancer for SSDI benefits:

  • Adenocarcinoma that is inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the anus, recurrent after surgery.
  • Colon cancer that migrates beyond the regional lymph nodes.
  • Small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.

If your colon cancer is not one of these forms, the SSA will evaluate whether your type of colon cancer is of equal severity to one of the listings.

  • Capable of Working
    You might assume that you should qualify for disability benefits if your disease prevents you from continuing at your job. The SSA, however, sets the bar higher than that. You must be unable to perform any type of gainful employment to meet the SSA’s standards for disability.
  • The SSDI Earnings Limit
    Sometimes a person can only work part-time because of colon cancer. Depending on your salary, even working part-time can disqualify you for SSDI benefits. If you can earn more than $1,220 a month in 2019 ($2,040 if legally blind), the SSA will deny your petition for benefits.
  • Demystifying Work Credits
    You must have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. You earn a work credit for every three-month block (quarter) that you work at a job that pays Social Security taxes. The number of work credits you need will depend on your age when you became disabled. Older workers need more work credits than very young workers, because older workers have had more time to accumulate credits.
  • Brace Yourself
    Getting SSDI benefits is seldom a quick or easy process. The SSA denies the vast majority of initial petitions. Most people who get benefits have to go through one or more appeals. Do not give up.

An elder law attorney near you can explain how your state’s regulations might differ from the general law of this article.


For more information on elder law, retirement planning and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.