Applying for Disability Benefits for Children with Cancer

Childhood Cancer is a condition that is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a condition that qualifies for disability benefits. However, in order for your child to qualify for disability benefits strict financial and medical criteria will have to be met.

Qualifying for SSI Benefits

Children with cancer receive disability benefits through the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is a need-based benefit which requires applicants have minimal financial resources available to pay everyday expenses.

For a child to qualify for SSI, he or she must not have more than $2,000 available each month from all countable sources. The SSA looks at the child’s financial situation as well as the income and financial resources or assets of the parents or guardians. In total, all countable sources must not exceed the monthly maximum in order for a child to qualify for benefits, but only a portion of the parents’ or guardians’ finances are “deemed” to the child.

You can obtain more information on the SSI program here:

Medically Qualifying for Benefits

To determine if your child’s cancer qualifies for benefits, the SSA needs to see specific medical evidence, which includes:

  • Documentation of where the cancer started, including biopsy or needle aspiration reports and imaging scans
  • The extent of the disease, including the stage and grade of the cancer and the locations of any metastatic tumors, documented through pathology reports, imaging scans, and lab work
  • Treatment records, including the form of treatment and its affects
  • A thorough clinical history from your child’s physician, noting the form of cancer, onset and profession of the disease, the treatments used, and the prognosis

The SSA evaluates cancer based on where it originates, even if it affects multiple body systems, and the manual of impairments, or Blue Book as it is known, contains listings for cancers of various origins. You will find these listings in Section 113.00 ( and will want to review the specific requirements for the form of cancer from which your child suffers.

Compassionate Allowances

It is important to understand that some types of rare cancer and untreatable or advanced forms of the disease also qualify for expedited review and approval under the SSA’s regulations. This is due to the Compassionate Allowances (CAL), which minimizes the evidence required for proving disability and ensures you have a decision on your child’s eligibility in just a few weeks.

Several forms of childhood cancer qualify for CAL review processes, including:

  • Child Neuroblastoma – with distant metastases or recurrent
  • Child Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – recurrent
  • Child T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

You can find a full list of the SSA’s CAL conditions here:

It is essential to understand that while the CAL program minimizes the evidence necessary for approval, you must still complete the full application process and provide the appropriate medical evidence to support your claim.

Submitting an Application

When you apply for benefits for children with cancer, you must do so in person at your local SSA office. An appointment is required and you can schedule that appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Before the appointment date, you will want to collect as many of your child’s medical, school, and financial records as possible. Even if by the time the appointment date arrives you do not have all the records collected, keep the appointment regardless. You can still get the ball rolling on your child’s claim for benefits and the SSA can assist in getting any missing records.


Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help

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Did You Know

Building awareness of childhood cancer is critical to funding and finding a cure. To help, please consider sharing on your Facebook.

Today, 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer.  Seven will lose their battle.

Did you know September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

Every day in America, approximately 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.

Childhood cancer does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class, or geographic region.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children, accounting for about 3% of childhood cancers.

On average, 1 in every 4 elementary schools has a child with cancer.

About one-third of childhood cancers are leukemias.

Childhood cancer survival rates in the United States have increased from less than 20% in the 1960s to almost 80% today.

Cancer kills more children each year than Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, and Pediatric AIDS combined.

Childhood cancer is not one disease entity, but rather a spectrum of different malignancies. Cancers found in children are biologically different from those seen in adults.

1 in 300 children will develop cancer before age 20.

Neuroblastoma is the most common extra cranial solid tumor cancer in children.

Today, up to 75% of the children with cancer can be cured, yet, some forms of childhood cancers have proven so resistant to treatment that, in spite of research, a cure is illusive.

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