Do You Qualify for Financial Support From Social Security?

If you or someone you love has brain cancer, there are many possible sources of financial support to help pay for medical treatments, rent or a mortgage, childcare, or any other day-to-day living expenses. One source is from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA offers monthly financial resources for people of all ages who are unable to work due to a serious disability. Many forms of brain cancer qualify, meaning you could be eligible for monthly payments to help pay for your expenses.

Compassionate Allowances and Disability

The SSA enacted the Compassionate Allowances Initiative to quickly flag and approve claimants who have a severely disabling condition. If your brain cancer is aggressive or advanced (see qualifying criteria below), you may qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. This means that instead of waiting for years for your claim to be approved, you may be approved in as a little as 10 business days.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits

The SSA uses its own manual on disability eligibility criteria, known colloquially as the Blue Book, to determine when someone is eligible for benefits. The Blue Book lists three ways to qualify for benefits with brain cancer:

  1. You have been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, ependymoblastoma, or diffuse intrinsic brain stem glioma. Any of these types of cancer will qualify with simply a diagnosis.
  2. You have any Grade III or Grade IV CNS (central nervous system) cancer, which includes astrocytomas, sarcomas, and medulloblastoma.
  3. You have any primary CNS cancer, which has either spread to a distant region of the body or has returned despite at least one round of anticancer treatment.

It can be challenging to know if you’ll be approved for disability because the Blue Book was written for medical professionals. Fortunately, the entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review the listings for brain cancer with your oncologist to get a better idea as to whether you may qualify.

Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for Social Security disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. If you’d prefer to apply in person with the help from a SSA representative, you can do so by scheduling an appointment at your closest SSA office or call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213. There’s nothing additional you need to do—once the SSA sees your diagnosis and you qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, your claim will automatically be flagged for expedited review.

About the Author: Mary Lovely PhD, RN, CNRN