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Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Cancer

 

Meet GUEST BLOGGER Ram Meyyappan. Ram is the senior editor and manager of the Social Security Disability Help website.  Social Security Disability Help contains information on how to apply for disability with over 400 conditions, helpful tips, FAQs along with an extensive disability glossary.

 

If you are a parent suffering from any type of cancer, the condition or the effects of the treatments you are undergoing may make it difficult to take care of your kids, let alone returning to work. In such cases, financial assistance may be available through one of the two Social Security Disability programs. There are two disability programs available to those who qualify under the SSA’s disability criteria. These include the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) program and the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) program.

SSI

SSI is a needs-based program. In order to be eligible, you must be deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration and you must meet certain financial criteria. As of 2013, to qualify for SSI, you must not earn more than $710 as an individual or $1,060 as a couple. You must also not have assets that exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.

SSDI

Unlike SSI, SSDI is not a needs-based program. There are no financial criteria to meet. You must, however, have earned enough work credits through your previous work history. In order to have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked five of the past ten years. If you are not old enough to have worked five of the past ten years, you need to have worked half of the time you were able to do so.

Cancer and Meeting the Medical Requirements

The SSA uses a manual called “the blue book” to evaluate whether or not a condition qualifies for disability benefits. Cancer is covered in Section 13 of the SSA’s blue book under Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. Just being diagnosed with cancer alone does not mean that you will qualify for benefits unless it is a type of cancer that is listed in the compassionate allowances program. In most cases, the cancer has to be inoperable, have distant metastases (has spread), or be recurrent after surgical procedures or irradiation.

You will need to prove through your medical records and work history that your cancer prevents you from working at the job at which you were previously working or any other job for which you are qualified.

Qualifying Under the Compassionate Allowances Program

Certain types of cancer can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in less than two weeks under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. Under this program, individuals who are suffering from very severe conditions can bypass the standard disability claim process and be approved for benefits a lot faster. You will need a physician’s opinion stating that the cancer is not operable or an operative note stating that the cancer was not completely resected in order to qualify under this program. If an operative note is not available, a pathology report indicating positive margins can be used. When applying for benefits, make sure you include this medical documentation and make it clear how you qualify for benefits under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

There are numerous cancers that are listed in the compassionate allowance program. For a complete list of all compassionate allowances conditions, please visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/compassionate-allowances.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online or in person at your local Social Security office. Make sure that you have all of the medical evidence that you will need at the time of your application. While the SSA will have you fill out forms that allow them to request copies of your medical records, it is always best to submit medical records on your own as a part of your application to ensure that the SSA receives complete documentation that supports your disability claim.

If You’ve Been Touched By Breast Cancer & Are Planning A Wedding, Read On…

Image credit:  123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: 123RF Stock Photo

 

It’s that time of year again when The Wedding Pink presents one couple whose lives have been recently touched by breast cancer with a FREE dream wedding, valued between $30,000- $40,000.  OMG! So amazing!!

 

Founder Cheryl Ungar is a 22-year breast cancer survivor and a wedding photographer.  She has put together an extraordinary team of some of Colorado’s top wedding vendors — all of whom have generously agreed to donate their services and products to ensure The Wedding Pink is a spectacular event for one very special couple.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  If your life has been recently touched by breast cancer (fyi, the experience is not limited to the bride, but could be with the bride or groom’s extended family) AND are engaged or soon-to-be-engaged, you could be the lucky winner of this fairy tale wedding.

 

This year’s Wedding Pink will will take place May 15, 2014 in Larkspur, Colorado.  Applications are open to ANY legal resident of the US regardless of what state they live in.  Submissions will be open from August 15 – August 25.  The winning couple will be selected in early September 2013.  There are no income qualifications.  Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.  To learn more about the submission criteria, click HERE.

Wishing you all a lifetime of health, love & happiness together….

Financial Assistance for Young Adult Cancer Survivors (Applications Due July 19)

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Common challenges facing many 20 & 30 year olds include paying off school loans, finding a job, securing health insurance and learning to live on their own.  These challenges are often compounded if there’s a history of cancer. When many young adults are finished with treatment, medical bills may have piled up, they are now too old to be on their parent’s insurance, and the debt starts spiraling out of control… but there’s help….

 

The SAM Fund provides financial assistance to young adults as they move forward with their lives after cancer.  Grants & scholarships can cover a wide range of post-treatment financial needs, including (but not limited to): current and residual medical bills, car and health insurance premiums, rent, utilities, tuition and loans, family-building expenses, gym memberships and transportation costs.  In 2011, SAM Fund awarded a total of $135,000 in grants and scholarships to 92 young adult survivors all over the country.  BTW, SAM Fund stands for Surviving And Moving Forward.  LOVE IT!

 

2013 Application Process is NOW OPEN.  Here’s how it works:

1.  Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 39; a resident of the United States; and either finished with active treatment and free of cancer OR be one year following the completion of planned therapy OR be in remission on maintenance therapy.  If you have questions about eligibility, please email grants@thesamfund.org.

 

2.  Anyone interested in applying must first submit Part One of the application which is due by Friday, July 19th at 5:00 pm EST.  After a review period, selected applicants will then be invited to submit Part Two. Those applicants will be notified in November as to whether they have received a grant.

 

3.  Interested in learning more?

 

Financial Assistance For Cancer Patients Who Can Not Work Due to Cancer Treatments

 

The financial hardship that a diagnosis of cancer can bring has the potential to be tremendous.  Many people are unable to work during treatments and without income, it is difficult for many to cover their every day living expenses not to mention all of the added expenses related to having a medical condition like co-pays, RXs, supplements, OTC meds, testing that insurance doesn’t cover.  What are people in this situation to do? 

 

Check out The C.H.A.I.N. Fund, Inc… they provide financial assistance to cancer patients who are unable to work as a result of undergoing strenuous cancer treatments.  The C.H.A.I.N. Fund grants can assist in areas such as mortgage, rent, utilities, doctor visit co-pays, prescriptions co-pays (for cancer drugs only), insurance co-pays, & special food needs.   These grants can not be used for any medical treatments, insurance deductibles, car payments, car insurances, cable television, internet services or cell phones.

 

Click HERE for more information as well as an application.  All assistance is made at the sole discretion ofThe C.H.A.I.N. Fund, Inc.  Assistance is given on an interim basis (up to 12 months at most) and any payments awarded will be  made directly to the recipient’s service providers. Additionally, the following exclusions apply:

  1. You do NOT qualify if you are currently receiving monthly financial aid through your State and/or Social Security Disability Programs OR a local Department of Human Service or Welfare.
  2. You do NOT qualify if you are retired and receiving a monthly pension check from a former employer.
  3. You do NOT qualify if your utility bills are currently being paid through a local Low income Home Energy Assistance Program.

 

 

10 Reasons Why I’m a Fan of The Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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For years I’ve seen television commercials for The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)But are they really as good as they appear to be?  I’ve visited their Arizona facility twice and I have to say, I think they might be that good. If nothing else, I’m impressed with the way they attack cancer (and I don’t get impressed easily ;-))…

 

Below are 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) of why I’m a huge fan:

1.  Practice personalized medicine.  CTCA treats each cancer as unique and tailor a treatment protocol to match each person’s unique needs and diagnosis.  CTCA will run genetic and biomarker testing on tumors.  They will even prescribe off-label drug treatments (drugs that are not part of the standard protocol) if the standard of care is not doing the job. They also take a proactive approach to treating side effects caused by cancer treatments.

 

2.  Integrative team approach.  Every patient at CTCA gets a team of at least 5 professionals assigned to care for them including a medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager.  Of course, surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, etc. will also become part of the team if their areas of expertise are required.  And get this, they all talk to each other and create a joint plan of action together.  They work together to treat the entire person before treatment begins, during treatment and even after treatment ends.   CTCA also employs licensed acupuncturists and massage therapists to help patients manage the side effects of treatment.

 

3.  100% focused on cancer.  Need I say more?! BTW, approximately 65% of the people being treated at CTCA have advanced or complex cancers. They are used to tough cases.  And they don’t give up.

 

4.  Make having cancer a little less stressful.  Schlepping from one doctor to the next; coordinating care and communications between different doctors and different hospitals; tracking down records, getting prescriptions, battling with insurance, etc. is downright exhausting.  At CTCA, they do all this for you.  You show up to your appointment and your team of doctors come to you.  

 

5.  Latest & greatest equipment.  CTCA offers cutting edge, treatment options and state-of-the-art technology like Cyberknife, TomoTherapy®, Cord Blood Transplants, Calypso® 4D Localization System™/GPS for the Body®, Tuning Fork, genetic & molecular profiling & much more.

 

6.  Nutritious & delicious food.  If you’ve ever eaten hospital food, you know how much it sucks.  Sorry, but it does.  The food they serve at their facilities is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  It’s all freshly prepared, made from organic ingredients whenever possible and inexpensive (I swear).   Each facility has it’s own smoothie bar and serves Starbucks coffee (seriously).  The Arizona facility even has it’s own organic farm.

 

7.  Works with many insurance companies.  CTCA works with many different insurances (typically not medicare or medicaid though).  All costs are pre-determined so there will be no surprise charges.  Acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic and other mind-body work are included, even if these services are not covered by your insurance carrier.

 

9.  Incredible amenities.  On-site pharmacy; on-site boutique specializing in wigs, head shavings, head coverings & mastectomy products- all sold at 30% below retail; on-the-premises spa; 24X7 visiting hours; really nice private hospital rooms that are ICU-capable with nearby subsidized hotel rooms for approximately $40 a night; massage & pampering for caregivers; only green products are used to clean the center; all medical records & results are 100% digital; really nice infusion bays; pet therapy dogs, free laundry services; the list goes on and on.  They even throw parties to celebrate different milestones throughout this journey.

 

10.  Survivorship programs.  Once active treatment is complete, CTCA Survivorship Program lends support to survivors as they get back into the swing of things.

 

THE BOTTOMLINE:  CTCA treats every patient as a person, not a number.  They take personalized cancer care to a new level…  They offer realistic hope to their patients.  I wish we had looked into receiving treatment there for Alan.

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Financial Assistance for Families of Children with Brain Tumors

 

The Butterfly Fund (created by The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children) provides financial assistance to needy families of children and young adults with brain and spinal cord tumors.

 

Who qualifies for assistance from The Butterfly Fund?

Families of children and young adults with brain or spinal cord tumors who have an unmet financial need that is a direct result of the child’s brain tumor diagnosis and who are receiving treatment/care at one of the following facilities:

  • All Children’s Hospital – St. Petersburg, FL
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children – Orlando, FL
  • Bi-Lo Children’s Cancer Center – Greenville, SC
  • Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children – Jackson, MS
  • Child Life Institute – West Palm Beach, FL
  • Children’s Health Memorial – Savannah, GA
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) – Atlanta, GA
  • Children’s Hospital – New Orleans, LA
  • Children’s Hospital of Alabama (Birmingham Children’s) – Birmingham, AL
  • Columbus Regional Women & Children’s Center – Columbus, GA
  • Dana-Farber/Children’s Cancer Center – Boston, MA
  • East Tennessee Children’s Hospital – Knoxville, TN
  • Georgia Health Sciences University – Augusta, GA
  • Kentucky Children’s Hospital – Lexington, KY
  • Kids Cancer Foundation – Loxahatchee, FL
  • Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital – Charleston, SC
  • Miami Children’s Hospital – Miami, FL
  • Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital – Columbia, SC
  • Pediatric Oncology Support Team (POST) – West Palm Beach, FL
  • Shands Children’s Hospital @ University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
  • St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa – Tampa, FL
  • T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital – Chattanooga, TN
  • Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital – Nashville, TN

 

Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Assistance with rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, car loan payments, car repairs, miscellaneous household expenses, etc., which a family may be unable to afford due to loss of work at the time of a child’s diagnosis and treatment
  • Items not normally covered by some health insurance plans, such as special medications, long-term or special rehab services, hearing devices, wigs and prosthetic devices, home health services, tutoring, etc.
  • Travel and lodging expenses associated with seeking and/or obtaining treatment at locations outside of the patient’s city or state
  • Funeral expenses

All requests for financial assistance through this program must be made through social worker at any of the medical facilities listed above.  Once a family’s application is completed and signed by appropriate medical personnel, it is submitted to the The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.  Most applications are approved within 2 -5 business days.  Funds get disbursed directly to the creditor.

Covering the Cost of a Bone Marrow Transplant

 

Approximately 50,000 blood and marrow transplants are performed worldwide each year to treat children and adults with over 70 illnesses.*  The emotional aspects of a transplant can be overwhelming (understatement of the century) and the financial burden can be devastating as many patients find their insurance does not cover all of the costs related to a bone marrow transplant.

For financial assistance as a result of needing a bone marrow transplant, check out these programs below:

  • The Bone Marrow Foundation has created a Patient Aid Program that provides financial assistance for donor searches, compatibility testing, bone marrow or stem cell collection, cord blood banking, medications, medical equipment, home and child care services, housing, transportation and other patient needs.

 

  • The Bone Marrow Foundation also offers One-to-One Funds as a resource that patients can use to raise money to cover the cost of their care. Funds are created for specific patients.  Community, family and friends can donate money for that patient’s transplant expenses.  The Bone Marrow Foundation administers these funds directly to the patient (minus a 5% fee to administer the fund).

If you are interested in setting up a One-to-One Fund for a transplant patient, please review their guidelines and complete this application form. A social worker will contact you to discuss your (or the patient’s) needs and the next steps in the One-to-One Funds process.

 

  • If you are pursuing a transplant through Be The Match, you may be eligible for their financial aid programs.  Funds from these programs can help pay for the cost of a donor search as well as some post-transplant expenses.  Ask your health-care provide or transplant specialist if you qualify.  For additional questions, call Be The Match Patient Services directly at 1 (888) 999-6743.

 

(* Source:  BoneMarrow.org)

Financial Assistance for Adult Sarcoma Patients

 

 

In 2009 my 46 year old husband was diagnosed with pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma.  A year later he passed away.  Before this time,  I had never heard of the word “sarcoma”.  You see, sarcomas are rare- really rare.  Although there are more than 30 different types of sarcomas, less than 1% of adults with cancer have a sarcoma diagnosis.  Today, it blows my mind at how many people I now know who have been touched by sarcoma.  Needless to say, I get pretty jazzed when I find out about sarcoma resources….

 

Check out the Eric D. Davis Foundation- they provide financial assistance for adult sarcoma patients in active treatment.  They can also assist patients with other “rare cancers”—rare being defined as affecting 200,000 or less Americans.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)

With sarcoma and other rare cancers, it’s super important to meet with doctors that specialize in that specific disease.  In order to do this, patients may need  travel out of state for appointments and treatments.  To help ease the financial burden of this expense, Eric D. Davis Foundation (Provide for the Assist Fund) offers grants to cover costs associated with:

▪   transportation (airfare, tolls, car rental, gas, taxi service)

▪   lodging during treatments

▪   meals during treatments

▪   childcare during treatment

 

Grants are awarded each quarter based on the schedule below.  Patients can receive one grant within a 24 month period.  To apply for a grant during the open period, download this EDDF Provide the Assist Application.

Quarter 1 Open Period: February 1st – 28th

Quarter 2 Open Period:  May 1st – 31st

Quarter 3 Open Period: August 1st – 31st

Quarter 4 Open Period: November 1st – 30th

 

To qualify, patients must be 18 years of age or older; residing in the US with valid ID; and currently undergoing active treatment for sarcoma (of any type) or other rare cancer at a treatment facility in  the US.   To be considered, applications must be signed by a medical professional or social worker.  Funds are limited and based on eligibility and availability.  There are no income requirements.

For more information on how the EDD Foundation can help adult sarcoma patients, please contact them directly via email at info@ericddavisfoundation.org or by calling 1-866-543-4351.

Financial Assistance for Families Affected by Pediatric Cancer

A Super Kid with Super Powers!
Image credit: robhainer / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Did you know that 30,000 – 40,000 children are currently undergoing treatment for cancer in the US?  Did you know that even with good insurance coverage, a family can still face out-pocket expenses (not including travel expenses) of $40,000+ per year?  Some parents even have to quit their jobs to care for their child in treatment.  OMG, this is heart breaking on so many levels. 

 

Check out the Isaiah Alonso Foundation (IAF)- a small, volunteer-run organization whose mission is not only to raise awareness for childhood cancer, but to provide much needed financial assistance to families of children with cancer.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  

Isaiah Alonso Foundation (IAF) accepts applications from any family who is battling childhood cancer and finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations. Grants up to $750 can be awarded.  Families may apply once per year.

To apply for funding, families must meet the following criteria:

  • Families must be residents of the US.
  • Children must have been diagnosed with cancer before age 19; however IAF can provide grants up until the child turns 21.
  • Although there are no set income requirements to qualify per se, IAF takes everything into consideration on a case by case basis.
  • Verification of a cancer diagnosis from the child’s social worker is required.

To download an application, please click HERE.  If you have questions, please contact the Isaiah Alonso Foundation (IAF) directly via email or via phone (270) 300-5329.

Thank you IAF for all you are doing to help families affected by pediatric cancer! xoxoxo

 

 

 

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