Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. I will be undergoing treatment and would ideally like to start working part-time and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to compensate me partially for my lost income. I have talked to a few people at the SSA, and I am starting to understand this may not be possible. Can you help me understand what SSDI can do for me and what I have to do to qualify for this benefit I have been paying for the last 20 years?”
Overview of SSDI benefits
Unfortunately, the confusion you have about the requirements and benefits offered by SSDI benefits is common. Let’s review what SSDI is and what it is not and what it can do for you.
First, it’s important to understand that SSDI is a wage replacement benefit offered by the SSA to workers who are 100% disabled and unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. To qualify for SSDI benefits, workers must be diagnosed with a severe mental or physical health condition and be “insured” for benefits.
Qualifying for SSDI benefits for a brain tumor
SSDI is not offered for short-term health conditions. If your brain tumor is not expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, you will be denied benefits. Next, it’s also important to understand that SSDI benefits are not offered for partial disabilities.
You mentioned you might want to work part-time. Unfortunately, if you work too much or earn too much money you will be considered NOT disabled, regardless of the severity of your health condition.
For example, if you continue to work more than 25 hours the SSA may decide that if you can work that many hours you could work a few more. Additionally, if you can earn more than $1170 per month the SSA will consider this “gainful” work and will automatically deny your claim.
What options do you have with a brain tumor?
So, what are your options? First, you need to discuss your condition with your doctor. Does he believe his condition will keep you from working for at least 12 continuous months? If yes, then you need to decide how much you can really work. In some cases, it could be better to quit working and apply for SSDI benefits for the time period that you will be unable to work.
Even if the length for treatment for your brain tumor ends up being only 12 months you may still qualify for what is termed “closed period benefits” for the months you cannot work. Unfortunately, the downside of this plan is that it could take months or years to start receiving benefits.
Another option is to keep working as many hours as possible and accept that you do not qualify for SSDI benefits.
Without more information about the severity of your brain tumor and your ability to work it’s impossible to say for sure what your best option might be.
It’s important to understand, however, that SSDI is not offered for partial or short-term disabilities. If this is the type of benefit you need you will have to seek other alternatives.