Social Security Disability Benefits for Children with Cancer
Navigating a childhood cancer diagnosis is difficult on multiple levels including trying to understand how and if your child qualifies for social security disability benefits. This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help with our Rally Families in mind. Disability Benefits provide information about different disability benefits and the application process.
How a Child with Cancer Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis that causes emotional and mental distress even when it is caught in the early stages and is very treatable. This is especially true if the patient is a child. If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, you will have numerous medical appointments, you will take time off work and there will be mounting medical bills. Your child may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs-based disability program.
Meeting the Medical Criteria
To qualify for disability benefits, the child’s cancer must meet the disability requirements. If the diagnosis was made early and treatment was effective, his or her claim may not qualify. If the cancer requires extensive treatment or if the diagnosis was later, or if the treatments or cancer has caused lasting effects, then the child may qualify for disability benefits.
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine eligibility. There are listings for different disabling conditions in the book, and each listing has specific criteria that must be met for a claim to be approved. Childhood cancers are reviewed using Section 113.00. When a childhood cancer claim is reviewed, there are several things considered, including the origin of the cancer, the extent of the involvement, effects of any post-therapeutic residuals and the duration, frequency and response to any therapies.
Compassionate Allowances Program
There are some medical conditions, including some kinds of cancer, that are included in the Compassionate Allowances Program (CAL). These conditions must be proven with supporting documentation and then they are approved much more quickly – in a matter of weeks rather than months. Some cancers that are included in the CAL program are child T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, recurrent child non-Hodgkin lymphoma, metastatic or recurrent child neuroblastoma, gallbladder cancer, bladder cancer and malignant brain stem gliomas. You will need to provide supporting documentation that confirms the diagnosis.
Meeting a Listing
If your child cannot meet the specifics of a cancer listing, he or she may be approved by meeting a listing that applies to their symptoms. As an example, if the treatment has caused respiratory issues or cardiac problems, then he or she may qualify through a listing for a pulmonary condition or a heart problem. You should speak with your child’s physician to see if they believe that your child could qualify for disability benefits. They can provide supporting documentation to help with the claim’s approval.
SSI is needs-based, so specific financial requirements must be met. A child is considered to have access to a portion of the parents’ income. You will need to provide paystubs, bank statements, property deeds, vehicle registrations, investment records and other financial data so a process called deeming can be used. Deeming makes deductions for each member of the household.
Starting the Application
To get the claims process underway, visit the SSA’s website or call 1-800-772-1213 and speak with a representative. After the initial application process is complete, you should hear back from the SSA regarding the claim within three to five months.