Cancer Diagnosis? Social Security May Be Provide Benefits

posted on Monday, October 14, 2019

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, there may be financial resources available for you and your family. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help. While your specific diagnosis and cancer stage will play a factor in your approval, thousands of people with cancer are eligible for disability benefits every year.

The Blue Book and Medical Eligibility

The SSA maintains its own medical guide of eligibility criteria, known colloquially as the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains all the test results and symptoms you’ll need to be approved for benefits. There are separate Blue Book listings for different cancer diagnoses, so qualifying will depend on your unique diagnosis.

For example, anyone with esophageal cancer will automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The same can be said for someone with metastatic cancer, or cancer that has returned despite one round of anticancer therapy.

Prostate cancer, on the other hand, will need to have advanced to another organ to be eligible for Social Security benefits. The general rule of thumb is if your cancer is very aggressive in nature or advanced, you’ll almost always qualify. The entire Blue Book is located online, so you can review the listings with your oncologist to determine where you’re eligible.

Compassionate Allowances and Cancer

Some conditions are so clearly disabling they’ll qualify for disability benefits immediately. These conditions are known as “Compassionate Allowances.” About 200 disabilities are eligible for expedited review, meaning your claim could be approved in as little as 10 days. These cancers are currently on the Compassionate Allowance list:

Acute Leukemia
Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Esophageal Cancer
Ewing Sarcoma
Fibrolamellar Cancer (a rare form of liver cancer)
Gallbladder Cancer
Liver Cancer
Mantle Cell Lymphoma
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Salivary Cancers
Sinonasal Cancers
Small-Cell Cancer (all)
Thyroid Cancer

Keep in mind that if your cancer has spread to another organ, you will also qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. While you will still need to wait a full five months to receive your first check, you will still be approved much quicker than most applicants. You do not need to do anything additional when applying with a Compassionate Allowance—the SSA will automatically flag your claim for expedited review.

Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. You can even save your progress to be completed at a later date if you’re unable to finish at once. If you’d rather have help applying with a Social Security representative, you can do so by making an appointment with your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment, call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213. You should hear back from the SSA within three to five months, but those who qualify for a Compassionate Allowance will be approved sooner.

Once approved, it’ll take about five months after you initially applied for you receive benefits. When you’re on disability benefits you can focus on what’s important: your health.

Helpful Links

Spencer Hospital Abben Cancer Center:

Blue Book for Cancer:

Compassionate Allowances:

Apply for Disability Online:

SSA Offices by State: