If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, he or she might be eligible for disability benefits to help offset the costs of medical care or taking time off work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for people of all ages with serious illnesses or disabilities. Usually, childhood cancer will medically qualify. The most common reason children are denied benefits is due to household income.
Technically Qualifying for Benefits
Children under age 18 are only eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI benefits are awarded to people of all ages who have a dire financial need. This means that your income will be evaluated when applying. Income limits will vary by household size, but the larger your family, the more you’ll be able to earn per month.
For example, a single parent with no other children could only earn $38,000 per year while still qualifying for SSI. A two-parent household with three children could earn nearly $50,000. To calculate your family’s income limit, you can view a chart on the SSA’s website.
Income limits are by far the biggest reason for denial. If your child is denied benefits based on income, there is unfortunately not a reason to pursue the case further.
Medically Qualifying for Benefits
Every time the SSA receives an application for disability benefits, it will compare your child’s condition to its own medical guide known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains information on how advanced most common forms of cancer need to be to qualify. All childhood cancers can be found in Section 113.00 of the Blue Book.
Each form of cancer will qualify differently. If your child has any type of malignant solid tumor, he or she will medically qualify for at least two years after a diagnosis.
Melanoma, on the other hand, will only qualify if the cancer has either:
- Returned for a second time to the skin or eye
- Spread to at least one distant node or to adjacent skin
- Is mucosal melanoma
Because the entire Blue Book is available online, you can review Section 113.00 with your child’s doctor to determine if he or she will medically qualify. Generally speaking, if your child meets one of the following conditions, he or she will medically qualify:
- The cancer has returned despite 3 months’ treatment
- The cancer has spread to distant regions of the body
- The cancer is inoperable or untreatable
Starting Your Application
If you believe your family will meet the SSA’s financial qualifying criteria, you should start the application process as soon as possible. You can call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to start an application on behalf of your child, but you will need to complete the process at your closest Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 offices located across the country.
An important document to review before applying is the Childhood Starter Kit. This online resource will outline exactly what paperwork you’ll need to finalize the application.
Once approved, your family can focus on what’s important: your child’s health.
This article was provided by Disability Benefits Help. If you have any questions about Social Security disability benefits or the application process in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org