Last Updated: 12/19/2013
Disability and Brain Tumors
Being diagnosed with a brain tumor can present many
obstacles in a person's lifeâ€”among these: the inability to work and earn a
living. The resulting loss of income can cause serious financial distress. Â In situations like these, individuals may need
to turn to Social Security Disability benefits to relieve the financial burden
that often accompanies serious health conditions.
The following article will serve as a starting point for
those interested in learning more about disability benefits and will take you
step-by-step through the application process.
Step 1: Know Your
There are two main federal disability benefit programs.
These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI). Each of these programs is operated by the Social Security
Administration (SSA) to provide financial assistance to different groups of
SSDI offers financial assistance to disabled workers who are
under the age of 65. Eligibility for SSDI is dependent upon an applicant's past
employment, income, and tax contributions. If you have not worked or paid
Social Security taxes throughout your career, SSDI benefits will not be the
best fit for you.
SSI is a needs-based benefit program that provides
assistance to disabled individuals who are struggling financially. SSI differs
from SSDI in that it is not contingent upon work history or tax contributions.
Instead, SSI eligibility is solely dependent on an applicant's income and
For more information regarding both types of benefits, visit
the following page: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disability-tips/difference-between-social-security-disability-insurance-ssdi-and-ssi.
Step 2: Research the
Social Security Disability Medical Criteria
Each applicant for disability benefits must meet specific
medical criteria pertaining to their particular condition. These requirements
are found in the SSA's Blue Book. The Blue Book is separated into listings that
cover different conditions or groups of conditions that qualify for disability
benefits. Brain tumors are evaluated under Blue
Book listing 13.13. To qualify under this listing, applicants must meet the
The applicant's tumor must be highly malignant.
This may include medulloblastoma, neuroectodermal
tumors with documented metastases, grades III and IV astrocytomas,
glioblastoma multiforme, ependymoblastoma, diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas, or primary sarcomas;
- The applicant's tumor must be progressive or
recurrent despite initial treatment
If you have a benign brain tumor, your application for
disability benefits will be evaluated under Blue
Book listing 11.05.
Do not be discouraged if you do not meet a Blue Book
listing. If your symptoms are severe enough to keep you from working, you may
qualify for benefits under something known as a medical vocational allowance.
Essentially, this means that the SSA will evaluate your age, your past work
experience, and your ability to complete work-related tasks to determine
whether or not you are capable of holding a job. If it is determined that you
are not capable of working, the SSA will deny your application and will provide
you with career suggestions. If it is determined that you cannot work, your
application is likely to be approved.
Step 3: Prepare to
Submit your Social Security Disability Application
Before beginning the initial application for benefits, it is
imperative to first gather all relevant information needed to support your
claim. This should include findings of exams, laboratory results, diagnosis
from a medical professional, treatment history, and written statements from
You will also be required to supply non-medical records to
support your claim for disability benefits. For a list of required documents,
visit the Social Security Disability Adult Interview Checklist: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Adult.pdf
Step 4: Submit Your
Application and Receiving a Decision
Once you have collected the required documents, you can apply
for benefits online or in-person at your local Social Security office. Â The actual application is made up of several
different forms. It is important that you take your time to review each of
these and complete them in as much detail as possible. Any incomplete,
inconsistent, or false information can cause your claim to be delayed or even
On average it takes three to six months to receive a
decision regarding an initial disability application. Fortunately, some types
of brain tumors are eligible for Compassionate Allowance processing. This means
that applicants with qualifying conditions can receive disability benefits in
as little as ten days. The following listings may apply:
Access a list of all Compassionate Allowance conditions, here.
Step 5: Receiving a
If your application is approved, you will receive a letter
in the mail containing details regarding your approval and payment schedule.
More than half of all initial applications are denied. If
your application is denied, do not panic. You have the option of appealing the
decision within 60 days of receiving your decision letter. Â Although the appeals process may seem
daunting, many more applicants are approved at this stage of the application
than during the initial application.
Remember, once you are approved for disability benefits,
you'll be able to focus on your health and recovery rather than your finances.