Child Cancer Patients Turn to Supplemental Security Income Benefits as Adults

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is essentially a government-run, long term disability insurance program. However, instead of paying a premium directly to an insurance company, as is required to secure and maintain a private disability benefits policy, workers have a portion of their gross pay deducted from their paychecks, and the money is used to fund the Social Security disability benefits programs, including SSDI.

medicaldoctor.jpgOnce a worker has earned enough credits by working for a minimum number of quarters and becomes disabled through injury or illness, claimant can file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If a claimant has not worked enough quarters in the years prior to developing the illness or suffering a debilitating injury, claimant will not be eligible for SSDI benefits.

As our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance benefits attorneys can explain, the number of quarterly credits required to attain SSDI eligibility depends primarily on the age of the claimant at the time of disability. For example, an 18-year-old claimant would not be required to have as many quarterly credits as a 40-year-old claimant.

If a claimant has never worked, or does not have enough quarterly credits, he or she may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which is program designed to provided disability benefits to disabled children and adults from a low income household who do not meet the work history requirements.

According to a recent article from Healio, survivors of childhood cancer are more likely than others to require SSI benefits in order to make ends meet once they reach adulthood.

While the 5-year survival rate for most childhood cancers is as high as 80 percent, most of the survivors are left with many future health-related issues due to having survived cancer. These issues can include second malignancies, heart problems, and other medical complications. These conditions require expensive treatment and may prevent these cancer survivors from being able to work once they reach adulthood. This can lead to financial crisis for survivors of childhood cancer and their families who must care for their loved ones and take time off from work to do so.

Without any work history, they find themselves ineligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, for the reasons just discussed, and have to turn to the Supplemental Security Income disability program for federal assistance.

As a result of childhood cancer treatments, we are seeing more survivors, and that 80 percent survival rate is believed to be increasing and will continue to increase as medical science further advances. As would be expected, the more childhood cancer survivors, the more adults who will apply for SSI disability benefits, and the numbers have shown this is occurring.

However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of improving pediatric cancer treatments and in increasing SSI benefits. SSI benefits were designed to be lower than what a worker could earn if he or she could work, so it is not more appealing to stay at home and collect benefits than to get a job. This is not likely to change. However, the maximum SSI benefit in many areas is $733 per month, which translates to less than $8,800 for a single adult. This is far below the federal poverty line.

Call our Boston SSDI benefits attorneys for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
Childhood cancer survivors likely to need federal income assistance as adults , May 27, 2015, Healio
More Blog Entries:
Mays v. Colvin – Disproving Ability to Do Sedentary Work, Jan. 23, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Blog

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