The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there are about 13.7 million Americans who are either currently being treated for cancer, or have been treated for it in the past. About 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year and about 1,600 Americans die of the disease every day. ACS estimates 52,550 people in North Carolina will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
In years past, if a person was diagnosed with cancer, they often would not live long because treatment wasn’t effective. As treatments have improved, for many people cancer has become a chronic, more manageable (though too often, ultimately fatal) illness. Instead of living for months after a diagnosis, a patient may live for years.
That’s good news in anyone’s book, but either due to treatment and/or the disease, many of those surviving with cancer are unable to work, so Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can provide much needed income. Medicare benefits would be available two years after benefits start. For those with insufficient work histories, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be available and Medicaid benefits would start right away.
If you have a sufficient work history and have paid enough into the Social Security system to get disability benefits, if your type of cancer and its stage are on a “listing” it will be presumed you qualify for benefits (cancer is such a common cause for claims, it has its own category of listings). If your cancer is not on such a listing, if there is sufficient evidence you cannot work for at least a year, you could also qualify for benefits.
The Social Security Administration has instituted a Compassionate Allowances program to speed up review of applications of those stating they’ve been diagnosed with some types of cancer and other disabilities. You can see that list of cancers online.