Disability, SSI

Social Security Helps Children Struck by Cancer and Other Illnesses

November 23, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

little girl smiling, holding teddy bearAbout 13,000 children receive cancer diagnoses each year. And, while every case isn’t fatal, about a quarter of children diagnosed with cancer won’t survive. Those who do survive may suffer with the disease for many years.

While Social Security can’t help with a cure, we can offer financial support to children with cancer or any other severe disability.

If your child has cancer or another disabling condition, and if your family has low income and few resources, you may be able to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your child.

If you’re receiving retirement or disability benefits, your child may be eligible for Social Security disability insurance as a child on your record. Your child may also qualify to be paid as a survivor if one of the parents is deceased, and the parent worked enough to be insured for benefits. When your child turns 18, benefits may continue as long as we classify the child as a “Disabled Adult Child.” To receive SSI or disability insurance benefits for your child, your child’s condition must be expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

For both Social Security and SSI, you’ll need to file an application for disability benefits. From there, you can select information under “Disability Benefits” and “Disability and SSI” to learn how to apply. You can also find the “SSI Child Disability Starter Kit” for children under 18 and the “Adult Disability Starter Kit” for children older than 18. These starter kits will include a fact sheet to answer your questions, a link to the childhood or adult disability report for you to complete, and a checklist for your in-office interview with a Social Security representative.

From this same page you can also find a link to helpful publications such as Benefits for Children with Disabilities, and you can also start an online application to apply for SSI disability benefits for a child under age 18.

Going through the disability application process can be time-consuming and involved, so if you think your child may qualify for benefits the time to get started is now. While obtaining benefits for a child who has cancer or any other severe diagnosis may not help the child get better, the financial support from Social Security benefits may help lessen some of the stress.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


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  3. Felix

    very interesting content to read, really helpful, thank you

  4. yvonne s.

    I live in government housing and recently had to care for my grandchild who has sickle cell problems. My question is do her ssi could be count as part of my income. It didn’t in the past . If not can u refer me to a site where I can print this out for my landlord. I would surly appreciate it. Thank you kindly. Yvonne Scott.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Yvonne, you have to direct your question to your local Office of Housing Assistance in your area. Thanks!

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