Disability Benefits for Cancer

If a cancer diagnosis is preventing you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. However, the hurdles you’ll need to jump through in order to obtain benefits are not easy.


To get disability benefits for cancer, you’ll need to prove through medical evidence that your illness will keep you from working for at least one full year or will result in your death. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review the medical evidence to determine whether the cancer is considered to be inoperable or cannot be controlled through treatment.

The medical evidence you will be asked to provide includes medical records that prove the location of your cancer, the type and extent of your cancer, treatment records and records showing how the cancer responded to (or did not respond to) treatment. You’ll also need to provide financial records and employment records with your initial claim.

In addition to providing documents, you’ll also need to explain, in as much detail as possible, how cancer has impacted your ability to work and earn a living.


Social Security Disability claims often take a long time to be approved; the initial determination can take between three to five months. However, for certain types of cancer that are considered “Compassionate Allowance Conditions,” claims may receive expedited handling at the SSA. In these severe cases, claims are reviewed based on minimal medical documentation. Because the Compassionate Allowance program is not a separate disability benefits program, there is no separate application process.

Some of the types of cancer that qualify for expedited processing include small cell cancer of the lungs, metastatic brain or spinal cord carcinoma or cancers of the gall bladder, pancreas, liver or bile ducts.


The reality is that the majority of Social Security Disability claims are initially denied. Sometimes people take that notification letter as a final ruling of sorts, but it’s important to know that you do have the right to appeal the initial determination within 60 days of notice of denial.

In many cases, a claim is denied not because the SSA made a determination that you don’t qualify. They may have denied you simply because all of the required documents and records were not submitted. Therefore, the SSA did not have enough information to make a determination.

Many applications are approved on appeal, so it’s important not to give up if your request is denied at first.


Obtaining Social Security benefits for cancer is not always easy, but it isn’t impossible either. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer and would like to pursue receiving disability benefits from the SSA, contacting an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can make all the difference with your claim for benefits. Attorneys who understand the ins and outs of the SSA and who experience working with similar claims are in the best position to provide necessary information for claims approval and to handle the appeals process if claims were denied.

Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Levine Benjamin to learn more about Social Security Disability and cancer, and to schedule a free consultation. We have years of experience helping people with disabilities receive benefits for both mental and physical conditions, and we’d like to help you too.


Social Security Administration Compassionate Alliances Program

Lung Cancer Foundation

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