Definition of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the lymph system, which is a series of ducts that carry your white blood cells all over the body. There are two major types of lymphoma—Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s.
The Lymph System
The lymph system is a part of your immune system which helps fight infections in the body. There are three main components of the lymph system, which include:
- Lymph – a clear liquid that runs through the system. It carries lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and harmful products for removal from the body
- Lymphoid tissue – lymph nodes and related organs that are part of the immune system
- Lymphatic vessels – small tunnels for the lymph to move around the system
Hodgkin’s lymphoma begins when a lymphocyte, or type of white blood cell, grows abnormally. When an abnormal cell begins to divide and multiply itself, it produces more and more abnormal cells. When these abnormal cells come in contact with white blood cells, lymph nodes becomes swollen. Swollen lymph nodes can be found most commonly in the neck or chest but can move to other areas such as the lungs and bone marrow.
The severity of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is rated on a scale from stage I-IV. To learn more about the specific stages, visit the National Cancer Institute website.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is different from Hodgkin’s because it is missing a specific abnormal cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The difference between Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s can only be determined by a doctor using a microscope.
The main differences between the two lymphoma types are how fast they spread and where they are located. While Hodgkin’s is usually found with swollen lymph nodes in the neck, non-Hodgkin’s does not have a common starting place.
Hodgkin’s also has progresses in four clear stages and it can usually be detected before stage IV. Non-Hodgkin’s, on the other hand, does not have a clear progression of stages; it is usually caught in an advanced stage.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of lymphoma is swelling of the lymph nodes. Swollen lymph nodes are bumps felt around the neck, groin, or armpits.
Another symptom is a fever that will not go away. You might also lose weight quickly (usually due to a loss of appetite) or wake up to heavy sweating at night for no apparent reason.
Other symptoms include itchiness all over your body and feeling constantly weak.
Lymphoma and Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability has a listing of impairments that qualify a person for benefits. It is commonly known as the “blue book.”
Both non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma are listed as disabilities in the book.
To qualify for benefits for non-Hodgkin’s, your lymphoma must either be diagnosed as:
- Aggressive lymphoma that does not go away after chemotherapy or radiation, or
- Indolent lymphoma that requires multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
To qualify for benefits for Hodgkin’s:
- Your lymphoma must not have gone into remission or it must have returned before the end of the year in which you had your chemo or radiation
If your diagnosed lymphoma does not meet the above standards, don’t dismiss your claim. If you feel that you cannot work your job (need constant breaks, can’t lift heavy objects, etc.) because of your disease, the SSA will consider your application.
Talk to a local Utah social security disability law firm. It’s easy to miss things in the process which may make all the difference in getting the benefits you deserve. Contact our office at (801) 890-1030.