Anyone at any age can develop cancer without prior warning. While many people may not be aware of this unfortunate fact, each year thousands of newly diagnosed cancer patients in the United States will be under the age of 20 at time of diagnosis, according to a recent news feature from Tribune Star. Many of these victims are young children. It is hard to imagine anything worse than being told your child has cancer, and, as September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, it is worth taking a brief moment to think about these young victims and their families.
While many people are aware of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which is designed to proved benefits for disabled adults who can no longer work due to a disability, many are not aware of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, also administered by the Social Security Agency (SSA), and how it may be able to provide benefits to families caring for a child diagnosed with cancer.
As our Boston SSI benefits attorneys can explain, the Supplemental Security Income program does not require claimants to have worked for any period of time in their lives to qualify for benefits. This is essential, since we are dealing with sick children who are not even old enough to work. This program is available to children with disabilities, but another difference between SSI and the Social Security Disability Insurance program is that household income is taken into account, because there are strict income guidelines for a child to qualify. In other words, this is a needs-based program only available to disabled people living in low-income households, and in this case, the claimants must be children.
It is important to understand that Social Security Administration has definition of disabled that is very different than what people would use in ordinary conversation or even what a medical doctor would consider a disability. The reason SSA claims it can override or even disregard a treating physician’s opinion a child is disabled is because a doctor can only give a medical opinion as to disability and not a legal opinion under the standards SSA uses during administrative hearings.
Much of what SSA does when deciding to accept or reject a claim doesn’t make very much sense. This is especially true for the claimant who is not represented by an attorney. Having a lawyer who is experienced and regularly handles these types of claims can significantly increase the chances your child will qualify for SSI benefits after a diagnosis of cancer.
While definition of a disability in terms of SSI benefits can be very confusing, it helps that there are certain medical conditions that fall under what SSA calls a Compassionate Allowance. If a child suffers from an illness which qualifies under the Compassionate Allowances clause of the SSA regulation, the child may be able to have his or her application fast-tracked. Advanced kidney disease requiring a transplant is an example.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Social Security: Benefits available for children afflicted with cancer, September 12, 2015, Tribune Star, Brian Hewitt
More Blog Entries:
Rand Paul Says Many Receiving SSDI Benefits Gaming System, Jan. 27, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog