Social Security Disability Insurance
Written by: Bruce L. Weider | 11.01.2023

Social Security Disability Benefits For Individuals With Terminal Illnesses

In addition to the emotional and physical suffering sustained by people with a terminal illness, a terminal condition often results in financial duress as well. One way of reducing the financial burden associated with terminal illness involves applying for Social Security disability benefits; however, this process can present its own challenges in terms of understanding whether someone is eligible and how to apply. Read about the eligibility requirements for Social Security disability benefits for individuals with terminal illnesses and explore the legal options available to those who are struggling to get access to these vital benefits by contacting a Michigan Social Security disability lawyer from Bruce L. Weider, PC at (734) 485-0535.

What Types of Terminal Illnesses Are There?

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), terminal illness may refer to any condition that limits a person’s lifespan; these conditions tend to be irreversible, regardless of the steps taken by the individual to improve their overall health, usually resulting in a doctor providing the patient with an expected survival rate of several months or less. This contrasts with the prognosis for conditions considered to be chronic diseases. While being some of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the term chronic disease is used in referring to diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, that are expected to be ongoing throughout an individual’s lifespan but that in themselves do not necessarily cause the individual’s death.

Illnesses impact people in different ways; for example, a chronic illness, such as high blood pressure or some forms of cancer, could be fatal for one person but not for another. As such, there are no definitive illnesses deemed to be terminal, and terminally ill individuals could have one or multiple different conditions. Below are examples of the types of illnesses that might be terminal:

  • Advanced heart disease and cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Motor neuron disease (MND)
  • Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease

What Benefits Can You Get if You Are Terminally Ill?

Two of the main types of disability benefits available for the terminally ill include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The applicant, and sometimes some of their family members, can receive these benefits provided they have worked recently and long enough while also making Social Security tax payments. An individual with a terminal condition could speed up the time it takes to secure these benefits by utilizing the terminal illness program (TERI), which oversees the sensitive and prompt handling of Social Security disability benefit cases for terminally ill individuals.

How Does TERI Work?

If a Social Security disability benefits applicant currently resides in a hospice, or if they have a condition that is likely to result in their death, a local agency, usually referred to as a Disability Determination Service (DDS), could file the terminally ill person’s benefits application with TERI to allow for faster processing. Before the individual can receive these benefits, however, the claims examiner must first liaise with a medical consultant. Medical conditions qualifying for the TERI program are as follows:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Oat cell or small cell lung cancer
  • Comatose for more than 30 days
  • Newborns with fatal congenital or genetic defects
  • Acute lymphocytic or myelogenous leukemia
  • Inoperable, stage IV, or metastatic cancer, or recurring cancer following therapy
  • Individuals awaiting bone marrow, heart, lung, or liver transplants
  • Liver, esophageal, brain, gallbladder, or pancreatic cancer
  • Dependency on a device that supports the cardiovascular system

Find out more about the Social Security disability benefits that individuals with terminal illnesses could be eligible for and discover how a seasoned Michigan Social Security disability attorney can assist those suffering from a life-limiting disease by arranging a consultation with Bruce L. Weider, PC.

Can You Get SSDI for Terminal Cancer?

Originally restricted to disabled employees aged between 50 and 65, in addition to their minor children, SSDI is now available to more individuals of different age ranges, provided their condition meets the original disability criteria: a body or mind impairment that perpetually makes it impossible for that person to obtain gainful employment. Cancer could fall under the disability criteria for SSDI, enabling the individual to gain access to this vital benefit. Moreover, if the cancer is severe, and likely terminal, it could be possible to expedite the process for receiving SSDI.

How Does SSA Define Terminal Illness?

Worth noting is that different entities define terminal illness in various ways. The Social Security Administration, or SSA, defines terminal conditions as untreatable medical conditions that are likely to lead to the death of a person with such an illness.

Is It Possible To Get Retroactive SSI or SSDI?

To acquire SSDI or SSI benefits, the individual must have a severe condition preventing them from seeking employment. If a person is receiving terminal care, they likely met the criteria for these benefits some time ago. As a result, if they then apply for these benefits, they could gain a one-time payment following the approval of their SSI or SSDI application, to recompense the individual for any benefits owed from the date when they first became eligible.

What Is the Compassionate Allowance Program?

The compassionate allowance program allows for the prompt identification of medical conditions and diseases that meet the disability benefits criteria set by the SSA, speeding up the time it takes for the governmental agency to make decisions regarding the awarding of these benefits. Primarily, these conditions encompass rare disorders impacting children, specific cancers, and brain disorders affecting adults. The SSA applies similar rules for evaluating compassionate allowance conditions as it does for making determinations for the SSI or SSDI programs.

To determine the conditions to include in this program, the SSA utilizes the following information:

  • Information submitted by members of the public
  • Chronic and life-limiting disease research
  • Advice from scientific and medical experts
  • Comments obtained from DDSs
  • Details from previous public hearings related to possible conditions to be considered for addition to this program

Contact a Michigan Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Those with a terminal illness may wish to apply for benefits to help reduce any financial burdens incurred. Consider reaching out to a lawyer to acquire answers to any questions concerning the benefit application process and get assistance with completing this procedure, such as filing the initial application and submitting possible appeals. Learn more about Social Security disability benefits for people with terminal illnesses and understand how a Michigan Social Security disability attorney can help terminally ill individuals secure these benefits by calling Bruce L. Weider, PC at (734) 485-0535.

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