March Is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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Allsup encourages screening, knowing your Social Security Disability Insurance options

Individuals with colon cancer may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if they are unable to work for 12 months or longer because of their condition.

Nearly 150,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with colon cancer. According to the national Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA), it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. A colorectal cancer diagnosis does not automatically mean you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of SSDI representation. However, if your condition or treatments make it impossible for you to work, you should determine your eligibility and apply as soon as possible. During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, the nation calls attention to the disease, and Allsup offers advice to individuals facing the challenges that often accompany it.

Screening for Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is up to 90 percent preventable. A screening every 10 years starting at age 50 greatly reduces risk, according to the CCA. A family history of colon cancer also is an indicator that calls for regular screenings. The sooner the cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment. Symptoms don’t generally appear until its later stages, which underscores the need for regular screenings, according to the CCA. Colon cancer symptoms include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, constant abdominal discomfort and fatigue.

“Colorectal cancer is the No. 2 killer of men and women combined,” said Nancy Butterfield, patient engagement coordinator with the CCA. “The education is still not there—even among some physicians.” The CCA seeks to bring attention to the disease throughout March. More information is available at

Social Security Disability and Colon Cancer Claims
Individuals with colon cancer may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if they are unable to work for 12 months or longer because of their condition.

“As with any determination, the Social Security Administration follows guidelines that at any point may result in denial of SSDI benefits or advance the application to the next level,” said Allsup senior claimant representative Ed Swierczek. “The review determines the applicant’s ability to continue working.”

SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.

Swierczek outlined five steps the SSA takes in evaluating colorectal cancer claims:

Step 1: “If the individual still works and will make $1,010 a month this year, the SSA denies his claim,” Swierczek said.

Step 2: If the claimant doesn’t have a severe impairment, he is denied at this step.

Step 3: If the claimant meets a medical listing’s qualifications, his case is approved and paid. If not, he moves to the next step.

Step 4: Can the claimant still perform his past line of work? If so, the case is denied. If not, it moves to the next step.

Step 5: Does the claimant have the capacity to perform other work? “It’s at this step that age, education and past relevant work are considered,” Swierczek said. “If the finding is ‘unable to do work,’ the case is paid. But if he is able to do other work, it is denied.”

Expert Help for Social Security Disability
According to Swierczek, many factors are involved during the SSDI process, and one of the biggest is medical history. “Frankly, it’s difficult and frustrating to go through the process if you don’t have professional expertise on your side,” he said. “That’s why we at Allsup guide our customers through the entire process. Whether you are applying for SSDI initially or have already been denied, we can become your advocate and apply our knowledge and expertise, giving you the best opportunity of being awarded your Social Security benefits.”

You can read about one couple’s experience with colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and the Social Security disability process at

For more information on National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI eligibility evaluation or for answers to Social Security disability questions.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to or visit Allsup on Facebook at

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Rebecca Ray
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Tai Venuti
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