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Impairment focus: skin cancer

Because May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we decided to discuss the disease for this week's impairment focus figure. According to the national Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 3.5 million cases in over two million Americans diagnosed every year.

People who have been diagnosed with skin cancer may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. In the Social Security Administration's listing of impairments, skin cancer falls within section 13, titled Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, which concerns many of the cancers and similar diseases that qualify for SSD protection. It is important to note that section 8, titled Skin Disorders, does not contain information pertinent to a skin cancer diagnosis.

Specifically, section 13.03 lists the two types of skin cancers that qualify for SSD protection. The first is "sarcoma or carcinoma with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes," and the second is "melanoma...recurrent after wide excision [or] with metastases...to one or more clinically apparent nodes [or] to four or more nodes [or] to adjacent skin or distant sites."

In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, an applicant should provide medical evidence that documents the type, site, and severity of the lesion, as well as the results of a biopsy or needle aspiration, if available. Applicants should also provide all physician and hospital reports, detailing the findings of any tests or surgeries.

If applicants are undergoing treatment for skin cancer, they should provide details, including planned or executed surgeries, radiation or chemotherapy, and the names of all medications, as well as how much and how often they are taking the drugs.

In addition to being the most common form of cancer in California and across the U.S., skin cancer is also one of the most preventable. Avoiding the peak sunlight hours and tanning salons, and wearing sufficient sunscreen and clothing are easy ways to protect against the disease.

Source: The Social Security Administration, "13.00-Malignant Neoplastic Diseases"

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