Financial Aid for People With Terminal Illnesses

by Angela M. Wheeland ; Updated July 27, 2017
If you are terminally ill and need financial assistance, there are several programs available to help.

If you or a member of your family has a terminal illness, the United States government can help. Individuals who are terminally ill can have overwhelming financial burdens, including the cost of medical care and loss of wages. The Social Security Administration offers financial aid to individuals who are in need through Social Security Disability Insurance -- or SSDI -- or Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. If you qualify for SSDI or SSI, you might also qualify for health insurance assistance.


Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally insured program designed to supplement income for individuals who are disabled. The Social Security Administration manages the program and distributes payments on a monthly basis. Benefits are funded by mandatory employee payroll taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you must be under 65, have worked five out of the last 10 years and have a mental or physical condition that prevents you from working. The condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.


Medicare is an insurance program administered by the United States government. The program offers health insurance coverage to people who are over 65, or under 65 and disabled. Also funded by payroll and employer taxes, Medicare covers 80 percent of any qualifying medical cost for individuals who in the program. If you qualify for SSDI, you can generally qualify for Medicare while continuing to receive the SSDI benefits.

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Supplemental Security Income provides cash benefits to individuals in financial need. Although the Social Security Administration manages SSI, the United States Treasury funds the program through corporate and individual income taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you must have limited income, be under 65 and have a mental or physical condition that prevents you from working. The condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. In addition to federal benefits, some states offer additional funds to individuals who qualify for SSI.


Generally, if you qualify for SSI benefits, you also qualify for Medicaid, which is a health insurance program for low-income families. Medicaid covers most costs incurred by the recipient, including doctors, hospitals, treatment and prescriptions. Depending on your monthly income and the state in which you reside, you might receive Medicaid at low or no cost. In some states, if you apply for SSI, you automatically apply for Medicaid. Requirements and eligibility are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services and your state laws.

How to Apply

The Social Security Administration website contains the application forms to apply for SSDI and SSI. Use the eligibility requirement forms to determine which program you qualify for and complete the online application. To apply for Medicare, you must complete the application form on the Social Security Administration website. To apply for Medicaid, you must complete an application with your state or county's Department of Health and Human Services.

About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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