What Types of Cancer Patients are Eligible for SSD?

by on Aug. 23, 2018

Government Social Security 

Summary: What happens when cancer strikes a family? Often, income levels drop, especially if the patient is the breadwinner. At this point, households frequently look elsewhere to supplement the financial loss, which is a smart move to help avoid mounting debt.

Although not always discussed, cancer patients may be strong candidates to receive social security disability (SSD). In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has set aside a portion of its website to help those with aggressive cancers--as well as their loved ones--determine eligibility and get answers fast.


Unlike other types of conditions, aggressive cancer falls under the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) umbrella of the SSA’s approved list of diseases that may be covered by SSD. CAL was established to more quickly evaluate claimants in an effort to reduce wait times. (Traditional waits for SSD can last a year or even longer, which may be too long for the cancer patient to avoid losing a home, falling behind on bills, and potentially considering bankruptcy.)


However, it’s important to note that not all cancers are accepted by SSD because not all cancers are seen as equally disabling.


Why all cancers aren’t covered by SSD


Cancer is a widespread term that can apply to any number of specific diagnoses. For instance, the National Cancer Institute lists more than 100 types of cancer on its site. Each cancer has its own staging, side effects, mortality rates, etc. Thus, comparing one cancer to another may not be an apples-to-apples analysis.


For that reason, certain types of cancer are not considered applicable by the SSA, especially for the CAL program. For instance, operable breast cancer is not covered unless it metastasizes or is fatal. The same holds true for other cancers that can be treated or cured using proven or approved methods. Consequently, the cancers most likely to be covered by SSD are those that are inoperable, recurrent, and fast-moving.


Additionally, any individual applying for SSD must show that his or her cancer fits the SSA’s guidelines for eligibility. Therefore, the person cannot have worked for at least 12 months (or is not expected to be able to work for that period) and cannot hold down any reasonable type of job. Plus, the applicant must have a work history of at least a decade, as well as a slew of other, very specific, requirements. This makes it essential for anyone considering applying for SSD to read through the compulsory items carefully.


Making a case to SSA for a cancer disability


Anyone who has been disabled due to cancer can apply online to begin the SSD application process. Still, it’s wise for the individual (or his or her guardian, if applicable) to talk with a knowledgeable SSD disability lawyer before starting, if at all possible.


Having legal counsel from the onset can help streamline what can be a complex process, as well as head off any avoidable issues and delays. An attorney with a background in obtaining SSD on behalf of clients will provide much-needed guidance to people already overwhelmed by dealing with cancer.


Regardless of whether an SSD applicant with cancer retains a lawyer, he or she should expect to produce medical records, employment records, and other documentation supporting the disability claim. Without this paperwork, the SSA will be unable to process the paperwork, leading to a quick denial.


Of course, initial SSD denials may come anyway. At that point, the applicant would be wise to ask for reconsideration and potentially get legal help. Even the American Cancer Society recommends appealing an initial denial, because appeals are common. And when appeals lead to remuneration from the SSA, they help ease the burdens of those living with cancer.


In some cases, a cancer patient who has been denied might find success through an appeal. This is true for someone whose condition has worsened or for those who have experienced a worsening of their condition and wants to apply for SSD again.


Regardless of your application’s status, you should consider all your options and consider consulting an attorney that will be able to help you in the process of getting benefits.

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