Did you know that if you’re under hospice care, you might be approved for Social Security disability benefits in as little as two weeks? The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits for people in need, as well as eligible family members. Here are some steps you can take to quickly determine if you’ll be able to receive monthly financial aid during your hospice care:

Step One: Ensure Your Age Qualifies

Social Security disability benefits are only available for people under age 65-67, depending on your date of birth. If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you will not be eligible for "additional" benefits on top of your retirement benefit. If you’re age 62+ but under your full retirement age, you should always apply for Social Security disability benefits before early retirement. Your disability benefits will be locked in to whatever you would have received had you worked until age 65.

Step Two: Find If You Qualify Medically

The SSA typically wants people to have a condition that meets medical criteria outlined in its own medical guide, known as the Blue Book. This is typically not an issue for people under hospice care. For example, all of the following conditions qualify:

  • ALS
  • Advanced Parkinson’s
  • Metastatic cancer
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s
  • Liver failure
  • Severe heart disease

The Blue Book is available for your review online, but again, if you’re in hospice care you should have no difficulty medically qualifying.

Step Three: Determine Who Could Receive Additional Aid

If you’re approved for disability benefits, the following family members could also receive benefits on top of your monthly payments:

  • A spouse age 62+, or age 50+ with a disability
  • A biological, step-, or adopted child under age 18
  • A spouse of any age caring for a child age 16 and under

In the event of your death, your family will be covered as well. The eligible parties are similar to those who can receive additional Social Security benefits while you’re under hospice care:

  • A spouse age 60+, or age 50+ with a disability
  • A biological, step-, or adopted child under age 18
  • A spouse of any age caring for a child age 16 and under
  • Parents who are dependent on you, meaning you pay for at least 50% of their daily living needs

Your family members’ eligibility status may change as time goes on. For example, a spouse might lose eligibility once your youngest child turns 16, but could regain eligibility at age 60.

Step Four: Apply Online

Applying online is the easiest way to get the ball rolling for Social Security disability benefits. Keep in mind that many conditions are so clearly disabling, they’ll be approved in just a couple of weeks. You can use your benefits for medical needs, food and other household expenses, car payments and other monthly bills, or any other daily living needs.

--by Eric M., disability outreach specialist