Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays a monthly benefit to people age 65 or older, blind, or disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. If you have cancer, you may be able to have your SSI application processed more quickly.
To get SSI, your income and assets must be below a certain level. These levels and the amount you could get from SSI vary from state to state.
You can apply for SSI:
Try to review the information about the disability application process before applying for SSI. This will help you know what information you need to gather before applying.
The process for applying for SSI for your child is a bit different. You’ll need to complete the SSI application and a Child Disability Report. You can find more about applying for a child on the Social Security Administration website.
The SSI approval process usually takes three to five months before all the information is processed and a decision is made.
If you have certain serious illnesses, including some types of cancer, it may take less time to be approved. The Social Security Administration can speed up their review of disability applications for people who have a diagnosis on their Compassionate Allowances list.
If you or your child is turned down for SSI because you don’t meet their disability standard, reapply and appeal if necessary. Many cases end up being approved after an appeal.
SSDI is for those who paid enough into Social Security during their working years, and who have worked recently enough to qualify. For both SSI and SSDI, a person must meet Social Security’s definition of disability.
Some people who were employed for short times or whose income was very low may qualify for SSDI, but may be able to get both SSI and SSDI because their SSDI payment is so low. In that case, the SSI payment is reduced by the amount of SSDI the person gets. See our information on Social Security Disability Insurance.
People who get SSI may find that it can affect other benefits such as state or local welfare programs. If you get other benefits, these benefits might also affect your SSI. Talk to your local Social Security office about this, or find out more from your cancer social worker, financial counselor or patient navigator.
Other sources of information and support include:
US Department of Health and Human Services
This site explains patient rights with regard to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
American Hospital Association
Toll-free number: 1-800-242-2626 (this is the customer service/publication order line)
AHA’s Patient Care Partnership brochure teaches patients about rights and responsibilities in regard to their hospital stay. (It comes in English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.) The brochure is sold in bulk orders only and there’s a fee for non-members. You can read it online for free, in any of the languages, at www.aha.org/aha/issues/Communicating-With-Patients/pt-care-partnership.html.
National Library of Medicine
This site has information on patient rights along with many links to other sources of related information.
Medicare Rights Center (for those with Medicare)
Toll-free number: 1-800-333-4114
This service can help you understand your rights and benefits, work through the Medicare system, and get quality care. They have newsletters, fact sheets, and a place to submit questions. They can also help you find programs that help reduce your costs for prescription drugs and medical care, and guide you through the appeals process if Medicare denies coverage for drugs or care you need.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Social Security Administration (SSA). Compassion allowances. Accessed at https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/ on August 17, 2023.
US Department of Health and Human Services (State Health Care Marketplaces). Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability and Medicaid coverage. Accessed at https://www.healthcare.gov/people-with-disabilities/ssi-and-medicaid/ on August 17, 2023.
Last Revised: September 30, 2023
Donate now so we can continue to provide access to critical cancer information, resources, and support to improve lives of people with cancer and their families.