Skip to main content

Applying For Disability Benefits

- For Parents -

If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, the last thing on your family’s mind should be finances. Unfortunately, cancer treatments for children can cost over $500,000, which does not include the additional expense of gas for driving to and from the hospital, or hiring sitters for other children. To help alleviate the financial burden that thousands of families experience every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for children with advanced forms of cancer.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a form of disability benefits offered by the SSA for lower-income adults or children. Although children of any age can qualify for SSI benefits, your family’s household income will be evaluated when applying. If you or your spouse have a high income, your child will not qualify. The SSA has a rough outline on how much your household can earn per month and still have a child that qualifies for SSI.

The maximum monthly SSI payment your child could receive is $733, although most children receive around $500. Some states choose to supplement these payments though, so your total payment may be higher. Children on SSI can often qualify for Medicaid as well. Most states will automatically enroll children into Medicaid after the child is approved for SSI. This resource will show you if your state approves SSI applicants for Medicaid.

How does my Child Medically Qualify?

Whenever the SSA evaluates an application, it uses a medical guide known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists hundreds of disabilities that could qualify for benefits, and exactly which test results or symptoms are needed to qualify.

Childhood cancer is in Section 113.00 of the Blue Book. Each form of cancer has different qualifications for disability benefits. For example, a diagnosis of any malignant solid tumor will qualify for at least 24 months, but cancer of the eye must have spread to other regions of the body or resist treatment for your child to qualify. Be sure to review the listing with your child’s oncologist to see if he or she qualifies.

Compassionate Allowances and Childhood Cancer

The SSA will quickly approve some conditions that are clearly in need of financial assistance. This list of conditions is known as the “Compassionate Allowance List.” Most forms of childhood cancer will qualify for a Compassionate Allowance if one of the following is met:

  • Your child’s cancer has spread beyond its local point of origin
  • Your child’s cancer is inoperable
  • Your child’s cancer has returned despite treatment

Children who qualify for a Compassionate Allowance are approved much quicker than typical applicants. Instead of waiting for months or longer, your child can be approved in as little as 10 days if diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Applying for Benefits on Behalf of your Child

The first stop for any parent applying for a child should be the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit. It will outline everything you will need to apply, from forms that need to be filled out to financial and personal documents you’ll need to present to the SSA.

To complete the application for your child, you’ll need to stop by your closest SSA office for an interview. You can schedule an appointment by calling your nearest office, or calling the SSA’s national number at 1-800-772-1213.

This article was contributed by Social Security Disability Help. For any additional information, please email us at or give us a call at 857-366-7629.

Our Contributors