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Are expedited benefits available if cancer worsens?

There is a mandatory five-month waiting period from the onset of disability until you can begin receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. Sometimes the wait can be longer, mostly because of the backlog of disability claims the Social Security Administration (SSA) has to review.

Even if your cancer worsens after you apply for SSD, you will still need to wait until five-months from the date of your disability for benefits to kick in. This is not five-months from the date you submitted your disability application, but rather five-months from the date that your disability onset and began preventing you from working.

What may speed up your receipt of benefits is cancer that worsens and then:

Applications can get hung up in the review process. This can mean a significant delay in benefits. Keeping the SSA informed of changes in your medical condition can get your application reviewed faster and can therefore get you benefits more quickly.

The SSA’s CAL initiative is designed to quickly get claims for benefits through the review process in order to get a decision made on eligibility as soon as possible. CAL conditions are often terminal illnesses or other severely disabling diseases that clearly meet the SSA’s disability requirements.

Although CAL designation for your claim does not waive the five-month waiting period for benefits, it can get you a decision much faster. This in turn can mean there is no delay in benefits starting at the beginning of your sixth month of disability. It is also important to note that sometimes the SSA will begin paying benefits under “presumptive edibility” at the beginning of the sixth month, even if they do not have all of the medical records necessary to find you formally eligibility for benefits. Worsening of cancer can be a reason the SSA chooses to make a presumptive eligibility decision in some cases.