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Father still fights SSA for daughter who died of cancer

A father has picked up his daughter's fight for those with terminal illness who need assistance from Social Security. Although she lost her battle with cancer in April 2010, her father still hopes to help others with terminal illnesses avoid the long waiting period before Social Security disability benefits go into effect.

After she was diagnosed in May 2009, his daughter's application for SSDI benefits was initially rejected because of incorrect paperwork. Later, she was informed that she earned too much working at Home Depot to qualify for assistance.

About a month after she was told she had to stop working, his daughter was approved for benefits in November 2009. However, she died during the required five-month waiting period before the benefits went into effect. Her death was just weeks before she was supposed to get her first payment.

When asked about the waiting period, a Social Security official said it is to ensure that the disability is long-term. If not, there could be overlap with an employee benefit plan.

It is now her father's mission to see that the five-month waiting period is removed for the terminally ill. He is one of many who believe that there is too much red tape for those with terminal illnesses. He is sure that had she received benefits in her last months, his daughter's fight with cancer would have been less stressful.

There is a bill in the House of Representatives that aims to remove the five-month waiting period for the terminally ill. It is the Social Security Fairness for the Terminally Ill Act of 2011 and it is currently under legislative review.

Many factors have to be considered when some seeks disability benefits. For many people in Pennsylvania and across the country, the process can be stressful. When applying for disability benefits, it is important to know your rights in order to get the best outcome.

Source: Foster's Daily Democrat, "Father fights delay in disability payments: Terminally ill daughter died before Social Security benefits arrived," Danielle Curtis, Nov. 6, 2011

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