Qualifying for Disability with Terminal Illness
Before entering senior home care, a person must have a medical condition that is expected to end life within six months. While this prognosis is standard for hospice eligibility, many people live months, even years past that six-month prediction. During that time, disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide much needed financial support.
Types of Disability Benefits
If you’ve already reached the age of full retirement when you enter as senior home care, then you won’t qualify for disability, but you may be able to get retirement benefits through the SSA instead. If you’re not at full retirement age though, then you could qualify for one or both of the SSA’s disability programs:
- Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a need-based disability program that has no work history requirements but instead sets strict limits on income and assets.
- Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is the program through which most American workers qualify for benefits when disability prevents them from maintaining employment. You’ll typically need a work record of 10 years or longer to qualify, though younger workers may qualify with fewer years of former employment.
Medical Eligibility When in Hospice
A medical condition that qualifies for hospice most certainly meets the SSA’s definition of disability. Nonetheless, you must still submit an application and the SSA will still need to review your medical eligibility.
Identifying yourself as a hospice patient at the time you apply will speed up the review of your claim. The SSA may:
- flag your application for expedited review under the Compassionate Allowances (CAL)
- review your medical records under a standard disability listing in the Blue Book.
Either way, if Disability Determination Services (SSD) knows you’ve already entered hospice care, they know that your medical condition is “automatically” eligible for benefits.
With applications filed by persons in hospice, the SSA will often issue a disability approval even before finishing up the review of medical records. This is known as a “presumptive approval” and allows benefits to start immediately.
To qualify medically for disability, a person must have a severe medical condition that prevents employment. By the time hospice is necessary, you’ve likely been eligible for disability for a while. In fact, you may be due back benefits, dating back to the onset of your disabling condition. If so, then you’ll receive a lump sum payment of any retroactive benefits just as soon as your SSDI and/or SSI application is approved.
Medical Coverage with Disability Benefits
A disability benefit approval immediately makes you eligible for medical coverage through Medicaid, if you’re not already receiving it. After two years of being on SSDI benefits, you would also become eligible for coverage through Medicare. There are additionally certain medical conditions that make you eligible for Medicare immediately, including ALS and dialysis-dependent kidney disease.
Benefits for Your Dependents and Survivors
If you get approved for SSDI, then auxiliary or dependent benefits may be paid monthly to your children and/or husband or wife.
To get auxiliary benefits, a spouse must be:
- 62 or older or
- caring for your child, who is either disabled or is 16 years of age or younger.
Your children can receive dependent benefits as long as they meet one of the following criteria:
- A disabled adult, with a disability that onset prior to the age of 22
- Younger than 18 years of age
- 18 to 19 years of age and still in high school
Even after you pass, the SSA can continue to provide support to your spouse and/or children through survivor benefits under the following circumstances:
- If your spouse is disabled
- If your spouse is caring for your child who is either disabled or is 16 years of age or
- If your child is 18 years of age or younger
- If your child is 19 years old and still in high school
- If you your child is disabled and under the age of 18
- If your child is a disabled adult but his or her disability started before the age of 22
Applying for Benefits
When you’re ready to apply, you can do so at any time by completing an online application. You may also visit the local SSA office. Anyone can file for benefits on your behalf, so even if you’re unable to apply yourself, you can still get the benefits you and your loved ones need.
Resources Found Via:
Nurse Next Door: https://www.nursenextdoor.com/
SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov
Compassionate Allowance Program: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/faq/compassionate-allowance-program
Presumptive Approval: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-expedite-ussi.htm
Retroactive Benefits: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/retroactive-payments
Local SSA Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.