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Can cancer patients claim Social Security Disability benefits?


Cancer is one of the most disabling illnesses that a person can experience. Late-stage cancer in particular can make day-to-day activities a major challenge, and the patient may struggle to maintain a normal lifestyle. In addition to the physical discomfort, cancer can also bring about significant financial challenges because necessary treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are expensive.

In order to address this issue, the Social Security Administration offers certain benefits to those cancer patients who have paid Social Security taxes over the years. However, in order to obtain those benefits, a person must satisfy the eligibility criteria that have been established by the SSA. The approval of a claim largely depends on the SSA's definition of that particular type of cancer. Thankfully, a number of cancers are included in the SSA's compassionate allowances so that the claim can be expedited.

While it is fairly common for a first application to be rejected - particularly if the cancer is not on the compassionate allowances list, many cancer patients have been able to obtain Social Security disability benefits after appealing the initial decision. It is also important to remember that SSD benefits are not dependent on the income of the applicant, but they do require a work history. Also, after a cancer patient has been receiving SSD benefits for 24 months, that patient becomes eligible for Medicare.

In addition to SSD benefits for cancer treatment, patients may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Similar to the SSD benefits, the SSA can expedite SSI if the medical condition falls under the SSA's compassionate allowances. However, despite all of the provisions that are issued, obtaining benefits that are offered by the SSA can still be challenging, especially if the initial application is rejected. Therefore, it may be helpful to work with an attorney to guide the person through the process from start to finish.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Health Insurance and Financial Assistance for the Cancer Patient," Accessed on May 21, 2015

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