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


  1. Genive E.

    Wow! My son was diagnosed with ALL. Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia. Received benefits for 6 months, then denied because he turned 18..

  2. Joe

    We supposedly received a COLA increase for 2017. It’s a big joke. the way the gov. calculated it seemed to be 1/3 of 1%. Seniors like me will be getting less monies that we were receiving last year. This is a slap in the face to senior citizens.

  3. patricia Y.

    The government helps other countries but I can die from cancer and they would’nt help me.

  4. William

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I recognize the Social Security Administrations’ need to communicate with its beneficiaries and interested parties, but I believe, flooding them with unnescessary communications will dilute your ability to convey vital information when the situation calls for it. Please only use this channel, at the most, quarterly, and be careful of the quality and quantity of the information that is provided.

    Thank you for your consideration of this


  5. Candice A.

    Insightful article! I would suggest consulting with a social security specialist prior to making a claim.

  6. Lorene

    Next year we will not receive an increase/raise because of lower gasoline prices. What about those who do not drive? We do not eat gasoline or wear gasoline and gasoline doesn’t my rent.
    What can we do about this seniors? I am angry.

    • Former E.

      Organize to get Congress to modify the formula used to determine the cost-of-living increase for Social Security benefits It should be made to more accurately reflect the expenses of retired and disabled people, who probably don’t drive much but do benefit from lower heating and cooling costs because they tend to spend more time at home than those who work full time.

  7. Gerard

    Sharon I think I have the Brooklyn bridge for you. Also some prime swamp lands.

    • Camille

      dream on sharon

  8. Marc

    I don’t know about all of you, but it sounds as though you’d agree with me on this. I for one am sick and tired of hearing both Social Security and Medicare called “entitlement programs,” by the politicians who are trying to get rid of it. They’re getting people all fired up and indignant about how seniors and the disabled drawing Social Security, SSDI, and Medicare are on some kind of government “handout” program. Their plan appears to be to get people to vote against their own interests – and ours – by convincing them that these EARNED benefits we’ve paid into all our lives are a form of welfare and we’re just living it up on “their tax dollars.” And I’m quickly losing my patience with the comments I see on every website after every story about Social Security where people complain about us “taking their hard-earned dollars” and attacking anyone who even suggests that we – meaning the government, which is, after all, ALL of us as a civilized society – have an obligation to take care of the elderly, the sick, the most vulnerable members of society. Their argument is taken straight from the mouths of the politicians, in particular Paul Ryan (leading the charge to end Medicare) including ALL of the current crop of Presidential hopefuls vying for the Republican nomination. “Everyone should take care of him/herself.” “Why should I pay for someone else?” “Let their families take care of them.” What about elderly single people who HAVE no family, Social Security is their only income, and without Medicare they’d have no medical care at all? Who are constantly forced to choose between taking their medication and buying food or paying the utility bill? I can’t imagine how ANYONE could believe that even the highest Social Security check could enable anyone to “live it up” when in truth it’s not even enough to pay the rent in some parts of the country (and I’m NOT referring to California, but the Midwest where even a studio apartment rents for nearly $700 a month). Further, Medicare is NOT free; I can’t believe how many people don’t know that we pay monthly premiums, an annual deductible, co-insurance AND have draconian dollar limits on services. The way this country treats seniors is nothing short of dedpicable, frankly. Somehow we MUST get the public educated with the TRUTH, not these outright lies they’re being fed by self-interested politicians and the biased corporate media machine. They profess to be so “pro-life;” how about putting a little more value on the lives of our seniors and disabled workers who contributed to society all our lives? I’m angry and I’m not going to seethe silently any longer.

    • sharon

      Donald Trump wants to save SS and Medicare..by investing in them. He will protect them.

    • bettyg


      many of us can NOT read long, continuous screens full for ONE paragraph.

      please have 1-2 sentence paragraphs and doublespace so ALL of us disabled folks are able to read your comments to judge for ourselves. big thanks 😉

      bettyg, iowa

    • muddiegirl

      This was a good letter and described the current situation well without hysteria. The minimum amount of Social Security is not enough to cover basic needs and wasn’t designed to do so. The basic premise was that people would prepare for retirement and have something set aside. Reality shows that many people haven’t.
      Most recipients receive a basic amount as long as they have 40 quarters worked. Government employees and others who weren’t covered by Social Security receive the exact amount which they earned, which in my case is $106.00. If I did not have the 40 quarters, I would receive nothing from Social Security and would have my Medicare premium increase to $159.00 in January. This is happening to many people not covered by SS but covered by Medicare come January 1, 2016.

    • Camille

      marc I totally agree. I do have children and have to live with them because social security is not enough. I had to get a part time job to help. actually we help each other since both my daughter and son in law had lost their jobs for at least a yr and even though they have jobs now it put them behind. seniors are treated terribly and I never thought it would be like this. happy thanksgiving marc good post.

    • ANN E.

      I agree

  9. Evelyn S.

    And by the way, what would you do
    If your pay was taken away, right now, and you needed Meds or needed a doctor and couldn’t pay for it?
    Everyone of you congressmen should be made to go through that
    Before being confirmed!!!
    It should be mandatory for ALL

    • Evelyn S.

      Social Security is a RIGHT,
      Not a privlilege!!!

  10. Evelyn S.

    Social Security has been earned by
    Seniors who receive it!!
    It is their right to receive it.
    (It is the same as TAKiNG YOUR PAY) now!
    It is illegal!

    • Meg


      • patricia Y.

        I have cancer

Comments are closed.