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Lung cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells that line the air passages. A lung cancer diagnosis can be physically, financially, and emotionally disabling, and many patients need financial support to help them stay afloat.
Patients with lung cancer can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a benefit program run by the government for patients who have worked and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings. SSDI has stringent eligibility rules, so simply having a lung cancer diagnosis does not automatically mean a patient will be approved for benefits. It is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the eligibility and available disability benefits for patients with lung cancer.
To qualify for SSDI benefits with lung cancer, you must have a medical condition that meets the strict definition of disability and have worked at jobs covered by Social Security.
In short, this means that your condition must limit your ability to work for 12 months or longer. If your lung cancer does not inhibit you from working, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.
In addition, you must have worked recently and long enough under Social Security to qualify for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes “work credits” to decide who is qualified.
Work credits are based on your total annual income, and individuals can earn up to four credits per year. The amount of work credits required to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on the age you were diagnosed with lung cancer. Most people require 40 work credits, 20 of which must be acquired in the last ten years. Younger workers may be authorized for benefits with fewer credits.
If a diagnosis is severe enough to qualify for SSDI, a patient may have the chance to have their application processed faster under the Compassionate Allowance Program. This helps decrease waiting periods for patients with the most severe disabilities so that their benefits can start as soon as possible.
To be eligible for the Compassionate Allowance Program, a patient must meet one or more of the following:
People with small-cell lung cancer automatically qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program.
You may apply for disability benefits via the SSA website or by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. If you want to speak in person, you may make an appointment at a local Social Security office.
When applying, be sure to have all important documents available, including Social Security number and proof of age, employment information, tax forms (e.g., a W-2 form or copy of a federal tax return if a patient is self-employed), and any medical records related to the disability.
Medical records could include test and lab results, medications, and medical professionals and organizations that have provided treatment. The SSA requires patients to include Biopsy results, imaging scans to show the location(s) of tumor (s)/spread of cancer, and details of cancer treatments to approve your disability claim for lung cancer.
The SSA requires original or certified copies from an issuing office. These documents can be sent or taken to a Social Security office, where they will be photocopied and the original copies will be returned.
If an application for disability benefits is denied, you may appeal the decision. Appealing the decision may be done online or over the phone. The original decision letter provides the information regarding how to make an appeal. Be prepared to give further details on your medical conditions and records.
SSDI is a federally run benefits program available to people who have a work history, have paid their Social Security taxes, and have a qualifying disability like small-cell lung cancer. These benefits are given to replace their lost income and support those with disabilities.
SSDI eligibility requirements are strict, and lung cancer patients are not guaranteed to receive SSDI benefits. You may apply for the benefits online, over the phone, or in person at an SSA office. Let an experienced attorney help you through the process of obtaining disability benefits for lung cancer.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law