Will having a terminal illness guarantee an approval for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Does a terminal illness such as cancer with a prognosis of 5 years or less survival qualify a person for disability?

Any terminal illness has a good chance of qualifying someone for disability benefits and, in many instances, being expedite. However, the other part of this equation is that the individual filing for benefits must not be working and earning over the SGA monthly earning limit (to see the current monthly earnings limit for disability benefits under Social Security).

Oftentimes, individuals with terminal illnesses apply for disability but are denied because they are working and earning over the SGA earnings limit. Social Security Disability is based upon functionality; basically, it does not matter what an individual's specific medical impairment is.

This is because the fundamental question that is entertained on every application for disability is whether or not the individual is able to engage in work activity that earns the person at least a substantial and gainful income, as determined by the Social Security Administration.

In order to be eligible and qualify for SSD or SSI, a person's condition must be so severe that it prevents them from working entirely, or prevent them from working at a level considered to be self-supporting by Social Security.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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