Disability, SSI

Diagnosed with Cancer? Social Security and Triage Cancer Can Help

December 2, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

social security and triage cancer can helpWhen people hear the dreaded words, “You have cancer,” many thoughts often overwhelm them. They think about their health, family, and mortality. They think about treatment options, oncologists, and cancer centers. What they typically don’t think about are the legal issues resulting from their diagnosis. However, questions around understanding their health insurance options, employment rights, and taking time off from work often come up.

The good news is that there are organizations and programs that can help. If you can’t work due to a cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible for financial support from two Social Security programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide financial support to people with disabilities unable to work. These benefits can help you focus your time and energy on what’s important to you.

These disabilities include certain types of cancer. Some cancers qualify for expedited processing by Social Security under its Compassionate Allowances program. These are cases where individuals have medical conditions so severe that they obviously meet Social Security’s disability standards. This allows Social Security to process the cases quickly with minimal medical information.

Not sure if you qualify?

The first step is to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. Then, you can check your application status with a personal my Social Security account. You can create your own personal my Social Security account today.

Still have questions?

Triage Cancer provides straightforward and accurate information, including resources to help you understand health and disability insurance options, Medicaid and Medicare, manage your finances, estate planning, and more. Though we tailor our materials to people diagnosed with cancer, our free resources are available to everyone.

We encourage you to sign up today for our free events that provide key information to help you address practical issues and minimize the financial burden of cancer. You can also check out our Educational Guides and Resources page – along with CancerFinances.org – for more information about your personal situation.

For more information or to register for any of our free events, visit TriageCancer.org. Please share this information with your friends and family – and post it on social media.

Social Security’s posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: , , , , ,

See Comments

About the Author


  1. Sherri F.

    My Roommate has Bladder Cancer, he’s had 2 surgeries so far and a GCB treatment for 6 weeks but it didn’t work and has 2 new tumors so he’s scheduled to have another surgery on June 3rd 2022. He has applied for SSD but nothing, he can’t keep living without money. I feel so bad for him, he hasn’t had a break from this cancer since it started over a year ago. What can he do?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Sherri. We are sorry to hear about your roommate’s condition. He can contact his local Social Security office to update information about his medical condition. He may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which he lives. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in his area and find out if he qualifies, he will need to contact his state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

  2. Howard M.

    My brother has severe facial cancer. He lost an ear, most of hearing, all his teeth and most of his jaw. He has been on tube feeding for two years. We applied for and received SSI for him, but because he had stayed home to care for our elderly parents until deaths for more than a decade he was told couldn’t qualify for disability. This Oct he turns 62 the minimum age for Social Security although I am aware that Medicaid which pays his doctors bills is tied to his enrollment in Medicare which isn’t available until 65 would he be able to apply for retirement benefits and keep the SSI benefits or would SSI be eliminated or adjusted? We are seeking to determine when it would be most beneficial to apply for retirement. Also, he applied for the SSI benefits in the summer of 2021, and we wondered how long before we would need to reapply or update the status of his claim? The answer to these two questions will assist us in making the decision on when it is best to apply for retirement.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Howard. We are sorry to hear about your brother’s condition. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are required to report their income or resources available to them. Also, we conduct “redeterminations” periodically to identify SSI recipients who –at any time- are potentially eligible for any or other Social Security benefits on their own record and the records of others (e.g., spouse’s, widow’s, or childhood disability benefits). If an SSI recipient is insured and qualifies on his or her own record for their own retirement benefit, they are required to apply at age 62. Failure to apply for additional benefits will result in suspension or termination of their SSI benefits. We hope this information helps.

  3. Gregor

    Absolutely! We have also compiled a lot of information about this on our German website: https://arbeitsunfaehigkeitsversicherung.com/

  4. Greg N.

    My wife receives disability social security since 2010 at a low rate due to low earnings, now 57. I became disabled in 2020 at 62, receiving FRA benefit. Can my wife draw on my account to increase her monthly benefit?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Greg. In order for your wife to receive benefits as a spouse, she must be 62 years of age. Keep in mind if she qualifies for her own benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay her own benefits first. If her benefits as a spouse are higher than her own benefits, she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. See our Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Family for more information. We hope this helps. 

  5. Johnny C.

    I got my award letter in oct.my pay was suppossed to be 1695.00 aparently S.S. forgot to check that my Back child support was done,over, no more!! 20 years ago,they have been taking out 595 a month from TX. And i contacted the Atty Gen. They said im not even on file anymore..they refund my 595 every month!! Problem is i cant cash them!! I sent the letter from the atty.from Tx. Saying i dont owe….My local office keeps giving me the Run around!!! Its been 5 months…..what do i do ??? Nobody seems to care and wont help!!!! Ive called Baltimore Md.payment ctr…nothing Im going to try to get a hold of our Indiana Governor maybe??

  6. April

    My daughters father who is 60 was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. My daughter is 14. Would she qualify for any benefits since he can not pay child support anymore? We were never married but he has court ordered child support.

Comments are closed.