If you recently discovered that you are suffering from a terminal illness, you are likely worried about your family and how you will be able to handle expenses stemming from the illness. A terminally ill person has multiple options they may consider that can help them obtain benefits to help with their care. If you or a family member was diagnosed with a terminal illness, you should consult with an experienced Fayetteville Social Security Disability attorney. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our disability attorneys have extensive experience with Social Security claims that they will utilize to help you file a claim for terminal illness benefits. Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP explains what benefits you can receive if you are terminally ill.

SSDI TERI Program for Terminally Ill Disability Applicants

When accepting benefits claims from terminally ill individuals, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will expedite the application process. The SSA defines a terminal illness as an untreatable medical condition that will eventually claim the life of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) applicant.

To qualify for the SSA’s terminal illness program, also referred to as TERI, an applicant must suffer from a certain type of medical condition. The following list details medical conditions that the SSA accepts as a “terminal” diagnosis:

  • Malignant cancer that is metastatic (spreading), stage IV, recurrent after undergoing therapy, or inoperable
  • Cancer that affects the esophagus, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or brain
  • Small cell or oat cell cancer that resembles grains of oat and that can form in a person’s central bronchi or prostate gland
  • Mesothelioma (cancer of the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs)
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Comatose for 30 days or more
  • Waiting for a liver transplant, lung transplant, heart transplant, etc.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other medical conditions that can be acknowledged as a terminal illness by the SSA. It is also important to note that if you need hospice care, you will likely qualify for SSDI benefits.

Once you are approved for SSDI benefits via the TERI program, you can receive assistance with healthcare and other expenses associated with your illness. If you also applied for SSI, you can receive cash benefits every month. Cash benefits can provide you and your family with additional money that could be put towards any expenses.

To learn more about the SSA’s terminal illness program, you should speak with an experienced Arkansas SSDI lawyer.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

If you were able to apply for benefits through the TERI program, you are probably wondering if your Social Security benefits will pass on to your family members after you pass away. The family members or survivors of a wage earner are typically eligible to continue receiving Social Security payments after their death.

The people who are eligible for the survivor payments depend on the family who is alive when the recipient passes away. Generally, survivor benefits will go to a spouse, former spouse, or the children of a benefits recipient. Under certain circumstances, the recipient’s parents or grandchildren can also receive benefits.

It is important to note that these benefits are not triggered automatically. A person must apply for survivor benefits after the death of the recipient. The death of the terminally ill individual must be reported before anyone can apply for survivor benefits.

The survivor’s age typically determines the amount of money that they can receive for survivor benefits. Older individuals or survivors living with disabilities are more likely to receive more money than other survivors. The rate of survivor benefits can range from 70% of the decedent’s Social Security benefits to 100% of the decedent’s benefits. The base benefits that a survivor may receive are based on how much money the decedent was receiving when they were alive.

There are certain exemptions for certain survivors. For example, if you must care for the child of the decedent and that child is disabled or under the age of 16, the age requirement for survivor benefits can be waived.

Our Fayetteville SSDI Attorneys Can Help You File a Terminal Illness Claim

If you or a family member needs help with filing for terminal illness benefits, you should contact an experienced Fayetteville benefits lawyer today. The dedicated lawyers at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP can help you discover which benefits you are eligible for. We understand how frightening it can be to deal with a terminal illness, and we are here to stand with you and your family. To schedule a confidential legal consultation to discuss your claim, call Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP at (479) 439-9840, or contact us online. We will work tirelessly to help you file a terminal illness claim to help you deal with your diagnosis.