Understanding the rules to obtain benefits from the Social Security Administration is confusing. The process is even more challenging when the search comes during a health crisis such as a cancer diagnosis. According to Cancer.gov, more than one-third of people in the United States will be treated for cancer their lifetime. How does Social Security help patients battle a diagnosis?
In June, the Social Security Administration celebrated Cancer Survivors Day. The event raised awareness for methods of early detection. Among the list of conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cancer allows Social Security beneficiaries to receive Compassionate Allowance (CAL).
What is Compassionate Allowance?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a condition qualifies for the Compassionate Allowance when it is severe enough to meet the disability standard with “minimal objective medical information.” As of 2011, the process of obtaining CAL is easier than a traditional disability claim. However, CAL does not qualify beneficiaries for extra money beyond what they would earn from a traditional claim.
Although the process of qualifying for CAL is easier, beneficiaries are not paid more in entitlements due to a serious condition alone. To balance the lower threshold for benefits, SSA keeps a short list of CAL qualifying conditions.
In what circumstances would I need an attorney?
With a lower disability standard comes increased scrutiny. Generally, a person qualifies for benefits when a condition will keep them out of work for at least one year. SSA may require additional medical evidence of a condition including a cancer diagnosis.
According to Cancer Research UK, treatment for cancer generally lasts three to six months. However, certain conditions that follow cancer could extend treatment and recovery time, which could require a separate claim or appeal to SSA.
Credibility in a claim
SSA judges often rely on a notion of credibility when considering a person’s claim. That is, “the quality or power of inspiring belief,” as defined by Merriam-Webster. An attorney who understands the nuances of the claims process can provide coaching to appellants who may have been denied in the past.
When life presents an obstacle such as a cancer diagnosis, the SSA provides a process to receiving SSDI or SSI benefits and maintaining a quality of life through treatment.