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Does someone with cancer qualify for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Social Security Disability (SSD)

People can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits after being diagnosed with a number of different medical conditions. People often hope that their diagnosis could help them access benefits if they cannot work. The more serious the medical condition is, the more likely people are to pursue SSDI benefits because they require time away from their jobs.

Take a cancer diagnosis, for example. Cancer can be deadly, although medical professionals have made incredible advances in treating various forms of cancer in recent years. The treatments themselves can also be very debilitating. Radiation and chemotherapy both tend to make people very ill, and surgery requires weeks of recovery afterward. Cancer can potentially affect almost any part of the human body and requires aggressive treatment for the patient to have the best prognosis in most cases. Can someone recently diagnosed with cancer qualify for SSDI benefits?

Some cancer patients may qualify

While the Social Security Administration (SSA) mentions cancers as qualifying conditions on its website, not every cancer patient qualifies for benefits. Those who have late-stage cancer or a very aggressive form of cancer that typically spreads rapidly and could claim their lives may qualify for benefits. The same is true in cases where doctors believe that the treatment for the cancer will be very lengthy.

In general, patients need to have a medical condition so severe that they cannot work at all. The side effects of cancer or cancer treatment often meet that standard. However, many cancer patients do not need the second requirement for SSDI benefits, which is that their condition must persist for a year or longer.

If doctors are able to treat their cancer in 10 months, then they may not be eligible for benefits. On the other hand, if someone has to agree to a two-year treatment plan or their cancer is likely terminal, then the SSA is more likely to approve their benefits application. The more medical documentation someone has affirming their cancer diagnosis and its severity, the better their chances of rapid approval for benefits if they decide to apply.

Those anticipating a leave of absence from work for a year or longer or who may never return are the most likely to succeed when applying for SSDI benefits for cancer. Learning more about the SSA’s criteria for benefits may help people determine whether applying is a good option in their situation.