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How to Apply for Disability Benefits with Cancer

August 23rd, 2013 |
Finances, Awareness & Education

by SSDHelp | Supporter: Organizations - All Cancers    Connect


Whether you have a form of cancer that automatically meet the criteria or a form that will require more thorough medical records to prove disability, you should also be aware that there are financial eligibility criteria for the SSA's disability programs as well. Read on to learn more.

Certain forms of cancer automatically meet the medical criteria for receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Other types of cancer must be proven to so severely impact your ability to work that you cannot reasonably maintain gainful employment in order to satisfy the SSA's medical eligibility rules. Whether you have a form of cancer that automatically meet the criteria or a form that will require more thorough medical records to prove disability, you should also be aware that there are financial eligibility criteria for the SSA's disability programs as well.

The SSA's Disability Programs

There are two Social Security Disability (SSD) programs for which you may qualify if you have cancer.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a program for disabled workers who have paid Social Security taxes over the course of their employment,
  • AND
  • Supplemental Security Income, which is a need-based program for those with very limited income and other financial resources.

To receive benefits under either program, you must meet the medical and technical eligibility standards. Medical eligibility will be covered more thoroughly in the following information.

To learn more about the SSDI and SSI benefits, please click here.

Meeting a Listing with the SSA

The SSA maintains a listing for many forms of cancer within its Blue Book, which is a manual of common disabling conditions. If your illness is listed with the SSA, you must strive to meet that listing with the medical records and other documentation that you present in your application for disability benefits.

Most listings for cancer appear in Section 13.00 of the Blue Book, which can be found here.

For most applicants to qualify under a listing in the Blue Book, their cancer must be very advanced. However, even if your cancer is not in an advanced stage, you may still qualify for benefits, if the combination of the disease's affects and the affects of required treatment make it impossible for you to work.

Compassionate Allowances Program

For certain types of cancer, particularly those in the most advanced stages and those for which there is no effective treatment, the SSA expedites the review and approval of disability benefits. This occurs under what is known as the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program, which is designed to get benefit to those who need them most in the fastest manner possible.

While your cancer may qualify under CAL, you must still: complete the application processa and provide the SSA thorough medical records to support your claim for disability.

However, once received, your application will be pushed through the review and approval process more quickly, meaning you will receive a decision on your claim and the commencement of benefit payments in a fraction of the time that the average SSD applicant experiences.

Getting Help with Your SSD Claim

Before submitting your application for SSD benefits, whether as a standard or CAL claim, you may wish to consider seeking help from a disability advocate or attorney. He or she can potentially increase your chances of being approved and shorten your wait for a determination as well.

How to Apply

SSD applications can be completed:

  • Online with the SSA website.
  • OR
  • In-person, with the SSA at your local office.

Online applications are often the fastest way to start a claim. If you decide to apply in person, be sure to schedule your appointment in advance.


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Ram Meyyappan is the senior editor of Social Security Disability Help (www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog). Social Security Disability is an informational website that explains how to apply for disability with over 400 disabling conditions. You can connect with him on IHC under the username SSDHelp.

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