“If your … cancer meets the Blue Book standard for medical severity, the SSA will then apply additional rules to determine your eligibility for disability benefits.”
If you have cancer, you might be too sick to maintain full-time employment and support yourself. As a result, you might be struggling financially, which adds to the stress you already have from battling cancer. Your bills might be piling up, and you might be wondering, can I get social security benefits for cancer?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your application for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits in a multi-step process. First, the evaluator will check your medical records to see if your condition is severe enough to meet the standards of the Adult Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book. If you qualify medically, then the SSA will explore whether you meet the non-medical requirements for SSDI benefits.
Blue Book Severity Requirements
The Blue Book considers only certain types of cancer for SSDI benefits. If your cancer is not one of these forms, the SSA will evaluate whether your type of cancer is of equal severity to one of the listings.
With all forms of cancer, the SSA will look at these factors when evaluating applications for SSDI benefits:
- Where your cancer started
- The extent of the disease’s involvement
- How your cancer responded to anti-cancer therapy, and what type of therapy you had
- Residual effects of the anti-cancer treatments
You will have to support medically-accepted documentation of your illness.
Non-Medical Requirement for SSDI Benefits
If your cancer meets the Blue Book standard for medical severity, the SSA will then apply additional rules to determine your eligibility for disability benefits. The SSA will look to see if you:
- Have enough work credits.
- Cannot work at all to support yourself.
- Make no more than the earnings cap.
You must satisfy every factor to qualify for SSDI benefits.
Understanding Work Credits
You earn a work credit for every three-month period (quarter) that you work at a job that pays into the Social Security system. You can earn up to four work credits a year. The number of work credits you must have to qualify for SSDI will depend on how old you were when you became disabled. Younger workers do not need as many work credits, because they have not had as much time as older workers to accumulate their credits.
The Ability to Work
Unfortunately, being unable to continue at your current job because of your illness is not enough to qualify for SSDI. You must be incapable of working at any type of job.
The Earnings Cap
If you can make more than $1,220 a month ($2,040 if legally blind), the SSA will deny your petition for disability benefits. These numbers are for the year 2019. The earnings cap can change every year.
What to Expect
The SSA denies most petitions for SSDI benefits the first time that people apply. Those who appeal the decision and do not give up, usually end up getting benefits that are often retroactive to when they initially filed.
You can talk with an elder law attorney in your area about how your state’s regulations might differ from the general law of this article.
Social Security Administration. “Substantial Gainful Activity.” (accessed July 25, 2019) https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html
Social Security Administration. “13.00 Cancer – Adult.” (accessed July 25, 2019) https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/13.00-NeoplasticDiseases-Malignant-Adult.htm