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Protecting the Legal Rights of Breast Cancer Patients to Individual and Group Long-Term Disability Benefits

Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is now the most common cancer that women contract in the United States. Many people don’t know that breast cancer can strike men, too. Men account for about 2,500 of the 268,000 new breast cancer cases every year.

Breast cancer treatments continue to evolve each year, as do breast cancer mutations. Advanced screening methods effectively catch breast cancer during its early stages, but people seldom discuss the professional impact of a diagnosis.

Your treating doctors will review treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, clinical trials, and up and coming immunotherapy treatments. They may also prepare you for the side effects of certain medications and surgical recovery times, but they’ll seldom prepare you for the impact of breast cancer on your occupation. This is where the experienced disability attorneys and top-rated ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw can step in.

Individual and group long-term disability insurance exists to provide policyholders, such as breast cancer patients, with income replacement benefits during their treatment periods. Some individual or group long-term disability policies provide benefits until normal retirement age. If you can’t perform the important duties of your occupation due to breast cancer, you may think you’ll encounter little trouble in claiming your individual or group long-term disability benefits. Unfortunately, America’s for-profit insurance conglomerates see things differently.

At DarrasLaw, our top-rated disability lawyers and experienced ERISA attorneys have more than 100 years of combined litigation and nationwide claim experience fighting wrongful delays, denials, and terminations of individual or group long-term disability benefits. Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered almost $1 billion in wrongfully denied insurance benefits—with no consultation fees or upfront costs to them. We’re passionate about getting you the individual or group long-term disability benefits you deserve under the law. You fight your breast cancer, and we’ll handle the rest. To schedule your completely free and confidential disability policy analysis and free claim consultation, contact America’s top-rated long-term disability lawyers and award-winning ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw today at 800-898-7299 or online.

Cancer Basics

Individual and group long-term disability insurers, as well as government benefit administrators like the Social Security Administration (SSA), typically categorize cancer as a “malignant neoplastic disease.” The vast majority of malignant neoplastic diseases are cancers, but the category also includes certain benign fatty masses that can form in the breast.

In the most general sense, the medical field defines cancer as the rapid mutation of abnormal cells in your body. Your body consists of trillions of cells that grow and die in normal life cycles. When a cell suffers damage, gets old, or develops abnormally, your body should let those cells die or kill them off and replace them with healthy ones.

Cancer occurs when this doesn’t happen. Instead, abnormal cells may multiply rapidly in the body, old and damaged cells won’t die, or new cells continue to form and multiply without need. The type of cancer you have (like breast cancer, brain cancer, or lung cancer) denotes where the mutations first began. However, cancer spreads. You may have cancer in your breast that is not breast cancer, but rather lung cancer that spread to your breast tissue. Similarly, you may have breast cancer that metastasizes to other areas of your body. The extent to which your cancer spreads denotes the stage.

Types of Cancers and Breast Cancers

Your breast cancer treatment protocol depends on which of the five main types of cancer that you have, and its category:

  • Carcinoma – Breast cancer is almost always a carcinoma. Carcinomas begin in the skin or the tissues that line your organs, and in the case of breast cancer, your breast tissues or milk ducts. Carcinoma is the most common cancer in the United States.
  • Leukemia – Leukemia forms in your blood and bone marrow. You may have leukemia within the blood of your breast tissues, but it’s not the same as breast cancer. Many patients with leukemia need to treat in-hospital for months, as leukemia typically requires whole body radiation and/or chemotherapy.
  • Melanoma – This is a common type of skin cancer that specifically begins in your skin’s pigments. It spreads quickly and requires aggressive treatment. Again, you may have melanoma that spreads to your breasts, but it’s not breast cancer.
  • Sarcoma – Sarcomas are rare cancerous tumors that form in your bones, muscles, cartilage, fat, blood vessels, and/or connective body tissues. You can have breast sarcomas, although they account for less than 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Sarcomas typically manifest as recurring tumors, with cancer contained in the tumor. Surgeons should surgically remove sarcomas, but they may need to shrink them with targeted radiation therapy before this is possible. Women with breast sarcomas must often undergo mastectomies.
  • Lymphoma – A lymphoma is cancer of the immune system that often forms in your lymph nodes. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas are the two main types, but lymphoma can closely relate to breast cancer because it can form in the underarm lymph nodes near your breasts.

The following breast cancers may occur:

  • Lobular carcinoma
  • Ductal carcinoma
  • Medullary carcinoma
  • Mucinous carcinoma
  • Cribriform carcinoma
  • Papillary carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Hormone receptor cancers
  • Nipple cancer
  • Breast sarcomas
  • Metastatic breast cancer

Many of these breast cancers are rare.

Most Common Types of Breast Cancer

Invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) accounts for 80 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States. Most breast cancer treatments and discussions involve IDC. This breast cancer begins in your milk ducts, which are designed to carry milk from your lobules to your nipples. Treating doctors may catch ductal carcinomas early if you’ve previously had cancer or know your family history, but most commonly diagnose this type of cancer after it’s invaded the remaining breast tissues.

Nearly 200,000 women receive diagnoses of IDC each year, and many may need individual or group long-term disability benefits. IDC typically manifests in a hard, irregularly shaped tumor. IDC needs quick treatment, as it can easily spread to the lymph nodes and the rest of your body. IDC is more common in women older than 55. Individual and group long-term disability insurers may not aggressively deny benefits to these women, as most individual and group long-term disability insurance benefits generally terminate at normal retirement age.

Lobular carcinomas are the next most common breast cancers, accounting for an additional 10 percent of cases. Lobular carcinomas begin in the milk-producing glands, as opposed to the ducts. Lobular carcinomas seldom manifest with symptoms until the disease has spread. Once cancer leaves the milk glands, patients may experience:

  • Thickening in part of the breast
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast fullness
  • Inverted nipple
  • A change in the skin of your breast

Women, especially expectant and breastfeeding mothers, may experience swelling and fullness as a natural consequence of hormonal changes. Many young women receive a diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer because they attribute these changes to hormones rather than breast cancer and never get tested.

The Stages of Breast Cancer and Metastatic Breast Cancer

The stage of your breast cancer denotes if, how far, and where your breast cancer has spread. Most breast cancers are diagnosed in Stage 1 or 2.

  • Stage 0 – Treating doctors typically use this term when patients are in remission from breast cancer. It describes the presence of abnormal, but not cancerous, cells in the breast. Women with a family history of breast cancer may undergo monitoring for such abnormalities and elect to undergo a mastectomy if they find non-cancerous abnormal cells.
  • Stage 1 – This means cancer has either not spread beyond its area of origin, like the milk ducts, or remains contained in the tissues close to that area. Stage 1 breast cancer has not spread to your lymph nodes and involves tumors less than 2 centimeters or cancer cell groupings less than 2 millimeters.
  • Stage 2 – This means cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, normally under your arm or in the breastbone, but did not spread beyond the chest area. Tumors bigger than 2 centimeters that did not spread to the lymph nodes may also receive a stage 2 classification.
  • Stage 3 – This means breast cancer spread to the chest wall itself, including into the skin and nearby muscles. You may also receive a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer if your breast tumor is larger than a certain size or the cancer resides in more than four local lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4 – Stage 4 cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, has spread to distant parts of your body. Stage 4 breast cancer can move into your lungs, liver, bones, and brain. It may also invade lymph nodes throughout your body.

Your breast cancer is end-stage or terminal during the late stages of metastatic breast cancer, and you may automatically qualify for federal disability benefits at this stage. Many breast cancer patients with Stage 4 breast cancer have lived in remission for years. This means they had early stage breast cancer that came back as distant recurrence, or late-stage breast cancer.

Treating Breast Cancer and Claiming Individual or Group Long-Term Disability Benefits

Modern treatment for breast cancer between Stages 0 through 3 has led to a nearly 90 percent five-year survival rate. Most treating physicians recommend one of the following two treatment protocols for cancer that remains only in the breast area:

  • Partial conservation surgery plus radiation: This is also called a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy. Surgeons only remove the part of the breast containing cancer with this type of surgery, and patients then undergo radiation and/or chemotherapy to kill any remaining microscopic cancerous cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. Cancers contained in the nipple area or milk ducts or contained in a single tumor may provide good opportunities for a lumpectomy.
  • Mastectomy: Surgeons remove the entire breast during a mastectomy, and then plastic surgeons can reconstruct the breast after your recovery. Surgeons will remove all of your breast tissues, including nearby tissues and lymph nodes. Some women with a high risk of breast cancer or recurrence may elect to undergo a mastectomy even for contained cancer. Furthermore, women who have a mastectomy for early stage breast cancer may not need to undergo radiation therapy.

For later-stage and metastatic breast cancer, you’ll likely need to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. The side effects of these treatments may feel worse than cancer itself and may leave you unable to perform the important duties of your occupation. Likewise, any cancer patient may need months to recover from a mastectomy and undergo preventive radiation, and then more time to prepare for and recover from multiple reconstructive surgeries. The side effects of non-surgical treatment include:

  • Fatigue
  • Blistering
  • Dryness
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Stiffness
  • Vomiting
  • Incontinence
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Nerve and muscle damage
  • Pain
  • Urine and kidney dysfunction
  • Mental fog, or chemo brain
  • Abnormal bruising and bleeding
  • Infection

Some breast cancer patients may work during the early stages of chemo and radiation therapy or while preparing for their surgeries. It can take a few weeks to experience the side effects of cancer therapy, however, so don’t let your sudden inability to perform the important duties of your occupation catch you off guard. Applying for individual or group long-term disability benefits early in the treatment process is wise.

The experienced long-term disability attorneys and top-rated ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw can work with your oncologist to gather the convincing medical evidence and proof necessary to qualify you for individual or group long-term disability benefits, so you’re prepared when treatment begins.

Contact the Award-Winning Disability Attorneys and Top-Rated ERISA Lawyers at DarrasLaw Today

You have enough to deal with after a breast cancer diagnosis, so let us deal with your individual or group long-term disability insurer. Our top-rated disability attorneys and award-winning ERISA lawyers work with our clients’ treating doctors to help make the case for individual or group long-term breast cancer benefits. We can also protect you from lowball settlement offers if you expect to undergo long-term treatment, as well.

We know how to work with anticipatory disabilities as you prepare for treatment and surgery. This may mean setting out your breast cancer treatment plan and explaining how your treatment will prevent you from performing the important duties of your occupation.

No case of wrongfully delayed, denied, or terminated breast cancer benefits is too small or large for our top-rated disability attorneys or award-winning ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw. To schedule your free long-term disability policy analysis and free claim consultation with DarrasLaw, call us today at 800-898-7299 or contact us online.


Review: 5/5 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“I wanted to tell you thank you so much for what your team has done Heather, Catherine, and Terrance. All did a wonderful job of just getting me in to work with you guys, etc. I just wanted to say thank you to those guys and gals who worked very hard in getting things accomplished and today I received a phone call which I told Life Wise to make sure they contact you and not me anymore. I want to thank you guys because they reversed my claim and I’m getting my benefits again and I am very thankful for that. Thank you for your team again Heather, Terrance , and Catherine all did a great job keeping me informed working with me with my disability. Understanding what I was up against and explaining things in easy detail for me. I just wanted to say thank you, I appreciate it, and God bless.”

– JC

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