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Determining SSI Eligibility

There are four major types of benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  • Retirement benefits;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Benefits for spouses and/or other survivors of a family member who has passed; and,
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The first three are actually benefits given to Social Security members – employees who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and who have earned the number of credits required by the SSA (these credits are earned through payment of Social Security taxes which are identified as “FICA,” that is, Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Payment is automatically deducted in employees’ monthly take home pay).

Disability benefits are paid to members (who have sustained total, permanent disability) through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSDI is one of the two largest programs of the U.S. Federal government which are designed to provide financial benefits to people with disabilities and to certain other groups of people. The other program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI); it was created by the SSA in 1974.

SSA was designed to provide cash benefits to aged, the blind, and disabled Americans who are with little or without income; this cash benefit is also meant to help provide for its recipients’ basic needs, which include food, clothing, and shelter (under the SSI program, some legal aliens are also considered eligible to receive the cash benefits).

The Supplemental Security Income is specifically designed for:

  • Disabled adults with limited income and resources;
  • Disabled children who are below 18 years old and who have limited income and resources; and,
  • People 65 years old or older who may be without disabilities, but who meet the financial limits set under the federal benefit rate (FBR).

The word “disabled,” as defined for SSI purposes, refers to physical or mental impairment, (including emotional or learning problem) that:

  • Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months;
  • Results in severe functional limitations (in the case of children) or in the inability to perform
    any substantial gainful activity (in the case of adults); and,
  • Can be expected to result in the disabled person’s death.

The words “income” and “resources,” on the other hand refer to:

  • Income: money earned from work; money received from Social Security benefits, Workers Compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, unemployment benefits, friends or relatives; and free food or shelter.
  • Resources: things personally owned, like: cash; bank accounts, U.S. savings bonds; land; vehicles; personal property; life insurance; stocks, and whatever can be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.

Cash benefits provided under the SSI program offers millions of low-earning Americans the much-needed relief from difficult situations. The Hankey Law Office knows and believes that this financial benefits help improve the quality of life of many individuals, especially the disabled, but who lack the means to undergo treatment. Thus eligible individuals should rightfully receive this benefit which, under the law, is legally theirs. A highly-competent SSI lawyer may be able to provide help in determining whether a person is eligible and, if so, in the preparation and filing of all necessary forms and documents.

SSD Benefits for Disabling Conditions

Conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are outlined in what is known as the Blue Book, which is divided into Part A (Adult Listings) and Part B (Childhood Listings). For adults, there 14 sections in the list of impairments, and one deals with Malignant Neoplastic Malignancies (Section 13.00).  Neoplasms are abnormal mass of tissue growths, so in other words this section deals primarily with cancers, but not including those cancers associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which are found in Section 14.00.

What is included under Section 13.00 is mesothelioma, a cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma or more specifically malignant mesothelioma is often mistaken for lung cancer, but it is actually a completely different type of cancer wherein the abnormal growth of cells is in the lining of organs, called the mesothelium.  It is often mistaken for lung cancer because the growth typically starts in the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs, although it can also easily start in the abdomen, testicles and heart.

Individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma may qualify for SSD from the early stage onwards, and the standard review process of the Social Security Administration (SSA) applies. This can be a long, complicated process that can end in denial if the claimant fails to present the proper documentation. However, because there are certain types of mesothelioma, specifically peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma, that are particularly virulent, the SSA applies an expedited review process called Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program so that benefits may be granted faster, although complete documents are still required.

To qualify for SSD benefits, the claimant must have the cancer originate or metastasize in the pleura, or if the cancer is elsewhere in the body not be controlled by any cancer medication or therapy. The records must include a biopsy or operative report or any hospitalization or physician report summarizing the type and extent of the cancer. It is rare for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma to be denied SSD benefits; in most cases it is because the medical records were incomplete.

For a successful application for SSD benefits, it is recommended that a knowledgeable legal representative prepares the documents. This will ensure that all the necessary bases are covered and avoid delays in approval, which individuals with malignant mesothelioma can ill-afford.