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Helpful Information on Social Security Benefits and Cancer

Posted on March 23rd, 2017

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits With Cancer

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you may be concerned about making ends meet financially if you’ll be out of work while going through chemotherapy and other treatments. Fortunately, there could be resources available for you and your family. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for people in need. Thousands of people receive disability benefits after a cancer diagnosis every year.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits With Cancer

A cancer diagnosis alone will not qualify for disability benefits. The SSA will need evidence that you’ll be out of work for at least 12 months due to your cancer’s complications or treatment, or that your cancer is terminal.

Every form of cancer will qualify differently. For example, esophageal cancer will qualify with just a diagnosis, as will any form of cancer that has spread to another organ. Breast cancer, on the other hand, usually need to be advanced to Stage III-B or further to qualify.  Some cancers that are highly treatable, such as prostate cancer, will not qualify unless they’ve spread to another organ, returned despite treatment, or are an aggressive form of cancer, such as small-cell cancer.

The SSA uses its own medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate your specific cancer diagnosis. The entire Blue Book can be found online, so be sure to review it with your doctor to determine if you’ll medically qualify.

Compassionate Allowances and Social Security

The average Social Security disability claim takes about five months to be approved, but sometimes up to 2 years if your initial application is denied. Fortunately, this is not the case for people with advanced forms of cancer. The SSA started its Compassionate Allowance initiative in 2008 to help people with clearly disabling conditions get approved for the resources they need quickly. Cancers that will qualify as a Compassionate Allowance with just a diagnosis include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Salivary and sinonasal cancers
  • Thyroid cancer


If you don’t have one of the above diagnoses, you could still qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. So long as one of the following is true, your claim will be expedited:

  • Your cancer has returned despite treatment (3 months or more usually qualifies)
  • Your cancer is inoperable
  • Your cancer has spread to other organs.

There are no additional steps you need to take when filling out your Social Security application when applying with a Compassionate Allowance, nor is there any additional paperwork for you to fill out. When you submit your application, the SSA will automatically flag your application for expedited review. Instead of waiting for 5+ months to hear back from the SSA, you could be approved in as little as 10 days.

Keep in mind that even if you qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, your benefits will not start within 10 days. Unfortunately, the SSA still requires that disability recipients wait five months to receive their first payments.

What Disability Benefits Are Available?

The SSA has two types of disability benefit programs. The medical criteria for qualifying with cancer are the same for both, but each one is intended for a different type of applicant.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI pays benefits to disabled workers and their eligible dependents. To qualify, you must have worked a certain number of years and earned a sufficient number of work credits prior to becoming disabled. It is funded through payroll taxes, and recipients are eligible for Medicare coverage after two years.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a needs-based benefit program intended for children, the elderly and disabled applicants with limited assets and financial resources. To qualify, your family’s combined income and resources must be no more than $3000. SSI recipients also qualify for Medicaid and even food stamps.

It is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI at the same time. This happens if your awarded SSDI benefits are lower than the SSI monthly maximum payment, which is $735 in 2017.

Starting Your Disability Application

Most applicants can complete the entire Social Security application entirely online. This is the easiest way to apply for disability benefits, as you can save your progress and complete the application at a later date.

If you’d prefer to apply in person, you’ll need to make an appointment with a Social Security field office. There are more than 1,300 offices nationwide, and every state has at least four offices. Regardless of how you apply, be sure to fill out your application as carefully as possible. If the SSA cannot locate your biopsy reports, surgical notes, or other medical records, you may be denied benefits due to a technicality!

Blue Book:

Compassionate Allowances:

Apply Online:

SSA Field Offices:

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Loving Your Tummy

Posted on June 2nd, 2015

loving your tummy

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., June 18

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., June 30

Do you ever experience digestive discomfort? You’re not alone! Millions of Americans suffer from indigestion, cramps, acid reflux, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.  Luckily, there are specific foods that can help with many of these common digestive complaints and may help trim your waistline at the same time. Choose one of three available dates to attend this workshop where you will learn how common foods such as garlic, onions, apples and plums may be causing your digestive system undue stress. While other foods such as spinach, tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries may help keep your digestive system humming along. Join us to learn some quick tips for good digestion and sample recipes.  Presented by Sue Delegrange, M.S., R.D., CSSD

Unless otherwise noted, programs are free, open to the public and held in our Healing Arts Center, 6316 Mutual Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46825. Please call 484-9560 or toll free 866-484-9560 for more information or to reserve a seat.

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The Big “O” and the Big “C”: 201 Intimacy Enhancers

Posted on May 28th, 2015

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Thursday May 28

Please join us for a second educational workshop on intimacy andholding hands cancer. Jen Fecher, a knowledgeable educator at Boudoir Noir’s School of Loving Arts, will share ways to improve intimacy and pleasure during and after cancer treatment. She will also discuss specific products available to enhance your intimate relationship. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and gain helpful ideas for new things to try.

Unless otherwise noted, programs are free, open to the public and held in our Healing Arts Center, 6316 Mutual Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46825. Please call 484-9560 or toll free 866-484-9560 for more information or to reserve a seat.


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The Impact of Cancer in Indiana (Infographic)

Posted on January 29th, 2013



About 2.4 million Hoosiers or 2 in 5 people now living in Indiana will eventually develop cancer. What impact does that have on our state? The Indiana Cancer Consortium put this infographic together to help answer that question.
Via: Indiana Cancer Consortium

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Miranda McConnell: An 8th Grade Inspiration!

Posted on October 17th, 2012

We would like to take the opportunity to thank a young lady who has made a contribution to Cancer Services in honor of her grandmother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Miranda McConnell knows firsthand the toll that cancer can take and the relief that a wig can bring, returning some degree of normalcy during chemo therapy.

Miranda partnered with Indian Springs Middle School’s 8th grade community service projects team to donate wigs to Cancer Services. The project is ongoing as the inspiration spreads and donations continue coming in. Miranda says that “the knowledge that someone might be helped through the donation is reward enough.”

Our gratitude goes out to Miranda, her family, and all of the 8th graders who participated in this collection and donation. You are all an inspiration to our cancer community.

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2011 Alvin and Madeline Strauss Memorial Symposium

Posted on August 16th, 2011

Monica Fawzy Bryant, Cancer Legal Resource Center

We will host the 2011 Alvin and Madeline Strauss Education Memorial Symposium for professionals on Sept. 9, 2011.

This year’s speaker will be Monica Fawzy Bryant, Esq. of the Cancer Legal Resource Center. Ms. Bryant will deliver her presentation, “Cancer and the Law and Understanding Health Care Reform.”

The presentation will educate attendees about the various resources professionals can recommend to patients regarding various issues and will discuss the affects of health care reform on patients and professionals.

This seminar is for social workers, case managers, nurses and other professionals who work with cancer patients and their families. Application for 3.0 continuing education units has been made for nurses, social workers, case managers, and lawyers.

The cost to attend is $35, which includes breakfast, symposium and continuing education units. The deadline to register is September 1.

The symposium will take place at the Holiday Inn located at 4111 Paul Shaffer Drive Fort Wayne, Ind. 46825 and will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m.

To register online and purchase a ticket, click here.

A special session, “Cancer and the Law,” will be offered for our clients on September 8 from 6:30 to 8 PM at our facility. Please call (260) 484-9560 for more information or to reserve your spot.

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Remain Cool and Safe During These Hot Summer Days

Posted on July 21st, 2011

by Brandon Bower, Client Advocate

It’s hot out there! When my mom was dealing with her bout with cancer, the Dr. warned us about excessive heat. He said that those who have a weakened immune system, those on medications, or those who have recently had surgery are more prone to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

He advised my mom to stay out of the sun, and if she had to go outside, to stay in the shade and take an umbrella for additional protection from the sun. He recommended that she drink 5-7 bottles of water per day and to eat smaller meals throughout the day. He also strongly suggested that she stay inside in an air-conditioned environment.

This advice is a good reminder for all of us during these dog days of summer. Remember to check on those you love, offer them a chance to hang out in your air-conditioned house if they don’t have access to air-conditioning, or locate your local county cooling centers.

Remember, any medication can intensify the effects of the heat, so check with your doctor to see the best ways to cope with the heat while on medication. Cancer Services wants you to remain cool and safe during these hot summer days.


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Weight Lifting May Help Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted on December 17th, 2010

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association contends that weightlifting may be beneficial for breast cancer survivors. The study also sheds light on the cancer preventative benefits of weight lifting. Want to know more? Read the full study here.

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Some Early Cancer Overtreated

Posted on September 9th, 2010

Posted on in June, this article explores how some tumors are being found too early due to screenings. To find out more, read here:

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