How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits While in Hospice

Hospice patients and their families face what is likely the most apprehensive time of their lives. Being severely ill is one thing, but to have the financial downfalls that come with it can make things even more difficult.

If you’re receiving palliative care for an illness that has advanced and has placed you in hospice care, there’s a good chance you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Disability benefits usually take many months to get approval, however, with the Social Security Administration’s Hospice care guidelines, approval should be quick and easy.

How can I get SSI disability benefits?

While many illnesses qualify for disability benefits, most have to qualify through a process under the Blue Book listings of the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, an illness which is expected to be terminal warrants an expedited process.

The TERI system was developed to identify and speed up disability claims by those suffering from a terminal illness. Hospice patients are nearly always approved for disability benefits because of the severity or advanced stage of their illness.

Some of the conditions identified by the SSA as medical conditions that are likely to meet their listing for accelerated benefits are:

  • ALS
  • AIDS
  • Chronic dependency on a cardiopulmonary life-sustaining device
  • More advanced cancers such as Stage 4 or Metastatic Cancer, inoperable or unresectable cancer, cancer of the esophagus, liver, pancreas, or gallbladder, mesothelioma, small cell cancer, cancer of the brain, or acute myelogenous leukemia
  • A condition of being comatose for 30 or more days
  • A newborn with a lethal genetic defect
  • Chronic dependence on a cardiopulmonary life-sustaining device

Once you’ve been diagnosed with one of these conditions and are placed in hospice care, you’ll most likely qualify for expedited disability benefits. It’s important to note there are other conditions that may qualify you as well.

What types of benefits are available?

Any person who is approved for benefits will receive disability payments. In addition, your spouse and any minor children may also be eligible for auxiliary benefits. These benefits can help support a family during their time of crisis.

Family members who may be eligible are:

  • A spouse under age 62 who is the joint caregiver of your child under 16 years of age
  • Your dependent child under 18 years of age who is unmarried, 19 if in school full time (this pertains to adopted children and stepchildren as well as blood-related children)
  • Any disabled child if they became disabled before age 22

Benefits for Surviving Family Members

Some surviving members of your family may also be eligible for additional benefits upon your death. Those who may be entitled include:

  • Your spouse, if they are 60 years or older or age 50 or older if disabled
  • Your spouse if they are caring for your child under 16 years of age or a disabled child
  • Your child under age 18 (or 19 if they’re a student) or disabled
  • Your child, if older than 18 who had a disability that began before the age of 22
  • Your parents, 62 years or older, who depended on you financially

Benefits can range from 71 ½ percent of your disability benefits to 100 percent. There is also a one-time death benefit to your spouse of $255.

Help is Available

If you’re in hospice care for a terminal illness such as advanced cancer, ALS, or other conditions set forth by the SSA, the financial concerns can only add to your load. Thankfully, you needn’t worry about how you or your family can get the financial help you deserve.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program in place to help support you and your loved ones, now and in the future. Apply for disability benefits today by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. You can also apply online or in person at your nearest SSA office.

As a nonprofit, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare never refuses care based on the ability to pay.


Lower Cape Fear Life Care:

SSA’s Website:

Do You Qualify:

Survivors’ Benefits:


Local SSA Office: