Mesothelioma and Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal organization that oversees the payment of benefits to qualifying retired workers in the U.S. Typically, Americans pay a portion of their income to the SSA. For most people, employers deduct the amount automatically from their paychecks.
When a person becomes ill or injured and can no longer work before reaching retirement, they may receive Social Security benefits early. If you’ve made enough recent payments to Social Security, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you don’t qualify for SSDI but still need disability income, apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead.
|Type of Disability Benefit||Who Qualifies|
|Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)||People who have worked enough years and made enough payments to the SSA and are unable to work for a year or more due to a medical condition.|
|Supplemental Security Income (SSI)||People with a medical condition who are unable to work for at least a year or more but do not qualify for SSDI. Usually, young adults and those with low-income work histories qualify for SSI.|
After 24 months of disability benefits from the SSA, you also qualify for Medicare health coverage.
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What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for Social Security Benefits?
To expedite the approval process, the SSA designated a range of medical conditions as physically debilitating. Many types of cancer, for example, prevent people from returning to work. Consequently, many cancers are considered conditions that automatically qualify you for Social Security benefits.
A list of automatically qualifying medical conditions for SSDI benefits can be found on the organization’s Compassionate Allowances list. Asbestos-linked conditions on the list include:
- Esophageal cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
- Pleural mesothelioma
- Primary peritoneal cancer
- Small cell lung cancer
- Stomach cancer
Generally, being diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma automatically qualifies you for Social Security benefits. Yet, you still need to meet the SSA’s work history requirements. The SSA determines work history eligibility by calculating the amount of taxes you’ve paid into the program and how recently you paid these taxes (known as the FICA tax).
In 2021, making $1,470 in wages or income nets you one SSA work credit. You can earn up to four credits each year.
Benefits are usually paid to those with at least 40 “work credits” (20 of which you earned in the past 10 years). Consequently, most people need to have worked at least 10 years total to qualify for SSDI.
How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability?
You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits by gathering the required information and submitting your application online here. You can also apply in-person at your local Social Security office or by calling the telephone number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
You’ll need information and/or documents from the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist about your:
- Banking information (for benefits direct deposit)
- Employment history
- Medical condition
- Personal information
No matter how you apply, your application will be reviewed to ensure you meet the basic qualifications. Then, your application is forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office in your state for to decide whether you meet medical standards. Finally, you’ll receive a letter notifying you of your approval status.
Information You Need to Apply for Social Security Disability Income
When filing for Social Security Disability Income benefits, make sure you have the following information ready beforehand:
- Alternate contact info
- Date and place of birth
- Direct deposit information from your bank
- Education, job, and training history
- Employment details for the current year and previous 2 years
- Information about doctors and hospitals you’ve visited for treatment
- List of medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with
- Marriage and/or divorce information
- Names and dates of birth for certain dependent children
- S. military service record (if applicable)
If you are denied benefits from SSDI, you have the right to appeal the decision. According to the American Cancer Society, many cases are approved upon appeal when additional information is provided.
Request an SSDI appeal in writing within 60 days of receiving the initial decision. Your appeal may move through up to four levels before being receiving final approval or denial:
- Administrative law judge hearing
- Social Security’s Appeals Council review
- Federal court review