Qualifying for Disability Benefits With Childhood Cancer

Qualifying for Disability Benefits With Childhood Cancer

If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, he or she might be eligible for assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for people of all ages who are unable to work or unable to participate in typical childhood activities. Children with cancer almost always medically qualify for disability benefits, but financial qualifications can be challenging to meet.


Financially Qualifying For Social Security

Children are eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. These benefits were created for the most financially-needy people in the US, meaning if you’re earning a decent living, your child will unfortunately not qualify.

SSA will evaluate your income on behalf of your child. The larger your family, the higher your income limits will be. For example, a single parent with one child can earn around $38,000 and qualify, while a two-parent family of five can earn about $55,000 before taxes while still qualifying for SSI. To determine your exact household income limit, you can view a chart on the SSA’s website.

Unfortunately, household income limitations are the top reason why children with cancer are denied benefits. It’s always important to review the SSA’s income limitations before applying to know if your child is financially eligible for assistance.


Medically Qualifying With Childhood Cancer

The SSA lists what medical criteria it needs for approval in its own guide, known as the Blue Book. All forms of childhood cancer can be found in Section 113.00 of the Blue Book. Each form of cancer will require different medical evidence for approval. For example, a child with thyroid cancer will only qualify if the cancer has spread beyond a local region, has returned after a round of chemotherapy, or is an especially aggressive type of tumor. Other cancers will qualify with only a diagnosis. These include:

  • Any malignant solid tumor
  • Mantle cell lymphoma
  • Acute leukemia
  • Brain cancer

The Blue Book was written for medical professionals, so you may not be sure whether your child qualifies after first reviewing it online on the SSA’s website. The entire Blue Book is available online, so you can review Section 113.00 with your child’s oncologist to determine whether he or she will medically be eligible for benefits.


Starting Your Application

Your first step should be reviewing the Childhood Disability Starter Kit on the SSA’s website. This guide will outline all of the paperwork you’ll need on hand when applying on behalf of a child.  You can also start the application online.

To complete the application, you’ll need to make an appointment with your local Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 office located across the US. Every state has at least four offices, so it’s likely there’s one nearby. Call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to complete your application

SSI applicants are automatically enrolled onto Medicaid once approved in nearly every state. Once approved, you can spend your payments on medical bills, medication co-pays, weekly groceries, rent or a mortgage, or any other daily living expenses that go towards helping your child.


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