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Are cancer patients eligible for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Social Security Disability Benefits for Illness

Cancer can prove to be a life-altering diagnosis. Depending on the specifics of an individual’s cancer diagnosis, they may be temporarily – or even permanently – unable to work while they are healing or otherwise managing their disease. 

SSDI benefits are generally available to individuals who have a disabling condition that prevents them from earning any significant income, and that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Cancer patients can qualify for SSDI if their condition meets the criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which concern the nature of the condition, its disabling effects, the time the condition is expected to remain debilitating and whether an individual has enough work credits to be eligible for this particular kind of compensation. 

For certain aggressive or advanced cancers, the SSA offers the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. This program expedites the SSDI application process for conditions that meet the SSA’s disability standards. Many types of cancer, particularly those that are metastatic, inoperable or recurrent, are included in the CAL list. This means that cancer patients with these conditions can receive a quicker decision on their SSDI application.

Applying for benefits

A strong SSDI application for cancer patients must include comprehensive medical evidence, possibly including:

  • Medical records: Detailed records of the cancer diagnosis, treatment history and prognosis from oncologists and other healthcare providers
  • Pathology reports: Biopsy results and pathology reports confirming the type and stage of cancer
  • Treatment plans: Documentation of chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and other treatments, along with their outcomes
  • Imaging reports: Results from scans such as CT, MRI or PET that show the extent and progression of the cancer

Without proper documentation, the SSA will not be able to effectively determine whether an applicant’s cancer is debilitating enough to render the applicant eligible for benefits. 

Regardless of how severe a diagnosis may be, however, the SSDI application process can be complex and overwhelming. Legal guidance can help gather necessary documentation, complete the application accurately and represent your interests as efficiently and effectively as possible.