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Can I Get Federal Disability Benefits With Cancer?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 10, 2015 10:55 AM

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, the last thing you want to worry about is administration and bureaucracy, bills and money. But the ill especially need financial support, and Social Security Disability Insurance does compensate cancer victims who cannot work.

Not all cancers are created equal in the public disability scheme, however. Some types -- such as inoperable breast or bladder cancer -- require only a simple diagnosis to quickly qualify for compensation whereas others only qualify depending on the extent of the disease's progress. That said, anyone who has paid into the social security system and is unable to work due to disease is eligible. Often, hiring a lawyer to assist with the claim is worth considering as the SSDI application process is arduous.

Ready, Willing, Unable
Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to certain people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. To qualify, most applicants must meet two earnings requirements based on:

  1. Age at the time of disability
  2. How long they have been paying into the public system

Compassionate Allowances Conditions are benefits paid out to people with diseases so severe that expedited approval is required; qualifying illnesses are not limited to cancer. Generally speaking, however, applying for and getting benefits approved can be a long process that takes many months, sometimes even years. As such, it is wise to begin applying as soon as you are aware of impending disability impacting employment.

Documenting Disability
To establish qualification for disability compensation, regardless of the type of disease, you will need to fill out many forms and ask the same of your employer, doctors, and other professionals involved in treating the disease. State disability agencies review the documentation on behalf of the federal government and decide if the applicant qualifies based on the work done 1) whether there are alternatives, 2) the severity of the impairment, and 3) the evidence of the disability shown in the paperwork.

In sum, qualifying for federal disability with a cancer diagnosis is no different than qualifying with any other disease, although there are exceptions for severe or advanced cancer diagnoses that make the process faster and less painful.

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