Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer became the world’s most diagnosed cancer in 2020, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It affects over 2 million people worldwide, and it is estimated that about 1 out of 8 women in the United States will develop a form of invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Fortunately, due to this increased rate of diagnoses and advancements in cancer treatment, survival rates have improved greatly, but it can still be a debilitating diagnosis.
If you find yourself with a breast cancer diagnosis, we at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick understand that it can be a distressing and upsetting time. If you are unable to work due to your condition and treatments, you may have to file a claim for long-term disability (LTD) insurance. If you need assistance with filing your claim, the attorneys at CCK are here to help. We can assist you in gathering the right kind of evidence to prove that your breast cancer is disabling. For a free consultation, you can call 800-544-9144 today.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the breast. Cancerous cells occur when a cell becomes abnormal, or mutated, and instead of reproducing normal, orderly cells, it begins to produce more mutated cells. These begin to divide and grow without order, forming a tumor that can continue to grow and go on to interfere with your body’s normal functions.
When cancer develops within the breast, it commonly begins in the cells of the lobules or the ducts. Lobules are the milk-producing glands, while the ducts are the tiny passages through which the milk passes. Breast cancer can begin in the fatty connective tissues of the breast, though this is much rarer.
As the cancerous cells multiply, they go on to invade healthy breast tissue. Eventually, these cells can reach the underarm lymph nodes, which filter infections and foreign substances out of your body. Once the cancerous cells reach your lymph nodes they can be filtered to other parts of the body, thereby spreading the cancer further.
The exact cause of breast cancer is unclear, but it may be largely due to a combination of one’s genetic makeup, environmental factors, and the aging process. Factors that might increase one’s risk for breast cancer include being female, having a family history of breast cancer or breast diseases, never having been pregnant, obesity, smoking, consuming alcohol, and having a history of hormonal abnormalities.
Breast Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- A lump in the breast that feels different from surrounding tissue
- Breast pain
- Change in breast in size, shape, or appearance
- Changes to breast skin such as redness, dimpling, or scaliness
- Changes to the nipple such as pain, discharge that is not breast milk, or the nipple turning inward,
- Lump in the underarm area
To diagnose breast cancer, a doctor may conduct a manual breast exam, a mammogram x-ray of the breast, an ultrasound, or an MRI. A biopsy, or a sampling of breast tissue, may also be taken so that potentially cancerous cells can be examined in a lab. Further tests to determine the stage of your cancer may include blood tests, a bone scan, or a CT or PET scan.
While breast cancer mainly impacts women, it is important to note that men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the rate of risk is about 1 in 833, according to the American Cancer Society. Risk of breast cancer in men may be increased by abnormal hormone levels or certain medicines that affect hormones. These can cause men to develop breast gland tissue, thus increasing the possibility of cancer. The symptoms and treatment for breast cancer in men are largely the same as they are for women.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Treatment for breast cancer depends mainly on the stage of your cancer, and certain treatments may be used in combination with one other. Breast cancer treatment can include:
- Lumpectomy: Removal of the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissue.
- Mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast.
- Lymph node removal: The removal of lymph nodes, most often in the underarm, that are cancerous or are in danger of becoming cancerous.
- Radiation Therapy: In which high-powered beams, such as X-rays and protons, are used to kill cancer cells. This is typically done externally but can also be done internally by inserting radioactive material inside the body.
- Chemotherapy: Drugs that destroy fast-growing cells. Chemotherapy drugs are often used to slow cancer, shrink tumors before removal, and decrease the chance that cancer will return after a tumor has been removed.
- Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy may be used for breast cancers that are more sensitive to hormones. This kind of treatment may stop the body from making estrogen or block hormones from attaching to cancer cells.
How Breast Cancer Can Impact Your Ability to Work
Treatment for breast cancer is often the cause of disabling side effects. Breast cancer alone may not cause disabling symptoms, particularly in earlier stages, but treatments can lead to symptoms that may impair one’s ability to work.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause extreme fatigue, nausea, headaches, and muscle aches that can greatly interfere with your ability to work, especially if treatment is prolonged. While killing the cancer, these treatments can also greatly weaken the body and affect one’s physical and cognitive abilities. The abilities to focus, multitask, and give attention to detail can be severely impacted. Hormone therapy can also affect one’s memory, ability to concentrate, and cause fluctuations in moods as well as cause muscle loss and fatigue. If you experience such symptoms from prolonged treatments, you may be able to use this as evidence for your long-term disability claim.
Cancer can also take a severe mental toll on patients. Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis and the effects of treatment can often lead to anxiety and depression. You may experience changes in your appearance, such as hair loss caused by chemotherapy and radiation, or severe weight loss or weight gain, all of which can impact your mental health.
Cancer and recovery from cancer can mean negative, life-altering changes. Anxiety and depression caused by your cancer can cause severe dips in mood that exacerbate symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, or racing thoughts and distractibility. The effects of such emotional distress caused by your cancer can also serve as proof of impairment for your disability claim.
Chisholm Chisholm & Kipatrick Can Help You with Your Long-Term Disability Claim for Breast Cancer
The attorneys at CCK understand that a breast cancer diagnosis can be upsetting. Submitting a long-term disability claim can be difficult while battling cancer. This is where we can help. The legal team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick can take the weight of a long-term disability claim off of you. We can obtain evidence, handle communication with your insurance company and doctors, and make sure that all the requirements of your policy are met so that you can get approved.
Our long-term disability attorneys will evaluate your policy to ensure that the evidence you provide satisfies your insurance company. We can help you gather evidence in addition to your medical records, such as reports from your treating physician or additional medical evaluations. We can be a point of contact between you and your medical providers.
Likewise, we can handle communication with your insurance company. We know that insurance companies often act in their own self-interest and not in the interest of the claimant, and we will work to ensure that your claim is being handled fairly.
Our attorneys are adept in ERISA law, which governs many long-term disability claims. Under ERISA, the appeal is the last stage during which you can submit evidence before your claim is taken to court. Our lawyers will make sure your evidence is strong enough to be approved the first time and ensure that you meet your deadlines, as insufficient evidence or a missed deadline can lead to claim denial. Whether you are filing your initial claim or appealing a denial of benefits due to breast cancer, CCK can help you.
Call Today to Speak with a Member of Our Team for a Free Consultation
You do not have to wait until your treatments are severely impacting your ability to work to begin developing your claim. If you know there is a long road ahead of you, it can be beneficial to start thinking about your long-term disability claim today to avoid future stress.
The team at CCK is here to help you every step of the way. We want to ease your burden as much as possible so that you can focus on fighting and recovering from your breast cancer. Let us help you. Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick today at 800-544-9144 for a free consultation.