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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
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When Time is Everything: Applying for Cancer Benefits through the Compassionate Allowance Program

Cancer refers to a group of more than 200 diseases involving irregular cell growth. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells don’t know when to stop growing and dividing. Each year, almost 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with invasive cancer; almost 600,000 die from the disease. However, more survive each year.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you know that cancer affects more than your body. It affects all aspects of your life, including your ability to earn a living. When cancer means you cannot continue working, Social Security Disability (SSDI) provides financial benefits.

Unfortunately, the normal SSDI application process can take months. There have even been stories of people waiting a year or longer for Social Security benefits. What if you don’t have months?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a fast-track process for those with serious, life-threatening illnesses. More than 50 types of cancer qualify for consideration under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. 

Compassionate allowances allow applicants to move more quickly through the Social Security claims process. Instead of waiting months, applicants receive benefits in about six weeks. In order to qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program, your cancer must be on the list of approved conditions for the program. You can find the list here.

When you apply for SSDI through the Compassionate Allowance program, you need to make sure you have adequate medical documentation of your cancer and your treatment plan, and that you fill in all of the paperwork correctly.

If you don’t qualify for a compassionate allowance, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits through the normal application process. To receive benefits, you need medical documentation showing that your cancer or your treatment plan makes it impossible for you to work for pay. You will have to list every job you have held in the last 15 years. If the SSA determines you can still perform any of these jobs, you will be denied benefits.

Learn more about preparing a successful SSDI application in Boston disability attorney John Keefe’s book, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim. Get your free copy by clicking the link on the sidebar. If you have additional questions or need help with your application, please call Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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