Cancer is a leading, and growing, cause of disability. In addition to the pain and other symptoms of the disease, treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy can leave cancer sufferers too weak, ill, and disoriented from the effects of medications to work or perform basic activities such as feeding and dressing themselves.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can serve as literal lifesavers for cancer patients, but qualifying for the programs is never automatic. The Columbus Social Security attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman may be able to help you navigate the application process, as well an appeal of benefit denials. We could also be available to assist you with applications for Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation, early retirement/disability, and private disability insurance benefits.

Here, we just want to introduce you to SSDI and SSI for cancer patients, as well as to a valuable but little-known program called Compassionate Allowances (CAL).

SSDI Basics

The first criteria for qualifying to receive SSDI benefits as an adult is having paid into Social Security from employment earnings. Not everyone participates in the federal retirement and disability program because their jobs make them eligible for state pensions or other forms of support for those too old, ill, or injured to work.

The other major key to having an SSDI application approved is submitting medical evidence of a long-term disability. This the official Social Security definition of what makes a person disabled:

  • You cannot do work that you did before;
  • We [the Social Security Administration] decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

SSI Basics

Supplemental Security Income replaces earnings. Qualifying for benefits requires, again, proving a disability and also establishing financial need. Children who have never worked can qualify for both SSDI and SSI if they are permanently and totally disabled. Also, families and legally designated caregivers may apply for the benefits on behalf of people whose health or mental condition do not permit them to apply on their own.

CAL Basics

The Compassionate Allowances program exists to move SSDI/SSI applicants who would clearly qualify to receive benefits to the head of the line for payments. Federal case reviewers decide on their own who qualifies for CAL status by using a long list of conditions that includes several forms of aggressive and metastasized cancers. That list is publicly available here. Who can receive my Social Security Disability benefits apart from me?

CAL approvals make applicants eligible to receive the same payments they would have received through SSDI and/or SSI had they gone through regular application and appeal processes. Since the cancers on the CAL list can result in death quickly, however, having payments arrive sooner can take much of the financial struggle out of end-stage disease.

There is much more to learn about Social Security benefits for cancer patients and others. We welcome your questions and look forward to opportunities to help clients resolve problems with all forms of disability payments. Contact us today to find out one of our Ohio Social Security lawyers can work for you.