Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the urinary bladder grow out of control. Bladder cancer usually starts in the cells lining the inside of the bladder (transitional cells). Symptoms can include stomach pain, blood in the urine, pain during urination, frequent urination, fatigue and weight loss.
Qualifying for Disability Under the SSA Official Listing for Bladder Cancer
If any of the four categories below apply to your diagnosis of bladder cancer, your condition will be considered severe enough to meet the SSA's disability listing for bladder cancer and you will automatically be considered disabled. In this case, as long as you meet the general requirements for the disability program you are applying for, your application for benefits should be approved.
- Bladder cancer with infiltration beyond the bladder wall.
- Bladder cancer that recurs after a total cystectomy. A cystectomy is the complete removal of the bladder.
- Bladder cancer that is inoperable or unresectable. Unresectable means that the entire tumor could not be removed.
- Bladder cancer with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes. This means that your bladder cancer has spread beyond a specified area.
For more information on the requirements regarding inoperable, unresectable, recurrent, or metastasized tumors, see our article on when cancer qualifies for disability benefits.
Residual Functional Capacity
If you have a diagnosis of bladder cancer, but do not have any of the four criteria listed above to “meet the listing,” the SSA will look at your “residual functional capacity,” or “RFC.” Your RFC assessment is used by the SSA to determine what kind of work you are still capable of doing despite the limitations from your medical condition. For example, if you need to take frequent, unscheduled rest breaks or bathroom breaks at work, this can limit the types of jobs you can do.
If the SSA determines that the symptoms associated with your impairment and treatment are so limiting that there is no job you can perform, you will be awarded benefits under what is called a “medical-vocational allowance.” But if the SSA finds that you are capable of performing any job you used to have, or any other job, the SSA can deny your claim.
Compassionate Allowance with Certain Bladder Cancers
For some cancers and other serious illnesses, the SSA has created an expedited program called compassionate allowances. If you meet the disability listing for bladder cancer based on the third criteria listed above (bladder cancer that is inoperable or unresectable) or based on the fourth condition (your bladder cancer has metastasized), that is a compassionate allowance condition. If you are diagnosed with either of these types of bladder cancer, the SSA will expedite your application for disability and approve you for benefits. Learn more about compassionate allowances.