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Cancer and Social Security Disability Benefits

medmalmalepatient.jpgNational Cancer Survivors Day was marked on Sunday, June 7, 2015. According to the organization's website, the event is a "celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community." More than 14 million people in the United States are cancer survivors. This event was for them, their families and their communities.

The foundation that organizes the day, the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, defines "survivor" as any person living with a history of cancer. Anyone with a diagnosis, whether the diagnosis was yesterday or the patient has lived with cancer a long time, can participate.

Eligibility for SSD Benefits

Treatment improvements have allowed people to live longer with cancer. However, their lives may be significantly changed. Individuals may become sick or disabled to the point where they can no longer work. If this happens to you, you may be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security.

SSD Process Is Usually Slow

Many cancers take years to develop, and patients who can no longer work after doing so for many years could be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, they must meet the agency's definition of disability. And even when approved, benefits do not begin right away - it takes six months after approval for benefits to begin.

The approval process can take a long time, depending on where you live, the complexity of your illness and how it affects your ability to work. You might be denied the first time and be forced to appeal, which can add significant time to the process.

If You Have Certain Types of Cancer, the Process May be Faster

However, some types of cancer may take less time to be approved. If you have cancer that appears on the Compassionate Allowances listing, your application may be processed more quickly and your benefits may begin sooner.

The Compassionate Allowances program includes conditions and diseases that almost always qualify for SSD benefits. With a diagnosis and complete medical information about one of these conditions, a claim for benefits goes through the SSD process much faster.

Cancers on the Compassionate Allowances List

A variety of cancers appear on the Compassionate Allowances list, including:

  • Acute leukemia
  • Anaplastic adrenal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) - blast phase
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Malignant melanoma
  • Osteosarcoma, formerly known as bone cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Peripheral nerve cancer - metastatic or recurrent
  • Prostate cancer
  • Small cell cancer (of the large intestine, ovary, prostate, thymus or uterus)
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Ureter cancer


For a complete listing of Compassionate Allowances, including additional types of cancer, visit the SSD website athttp://ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm. The Social Security Administration may not award benefits for all instances of cancers listed here or on the SSD website. Rather, the cancer must have metastasized (spread), be inoperable or recur frequently to be considered for a compassionate allowance.

Get Help With Your Claim for SSD Benefits if You Have Cancer That Keeps You From Working

If you believe your condition may qualify you for SSD benefits based on cancer, whether or not it is on the Compassionate Allowances list, get help with your claim and speed up the process. Do what many hundreds of thousands of people have done over the years: Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help.

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