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Cancer survivor fighting to change laws surrounding disability benefits

Published on May 3rd, 2012

People living in Chicago and beyond might take their health for granted. People get up every day and go to work. However, in an instant, an illness or serious injury can turn a person’s life upside down and leave them unable to work and make a living for themselves.

When that happens, many people rely on Social Security disability benefits. Through the SSDI program, those who have been or are expected to be unable to work for 12 months may be eligible to collect disability benefits. For some, the financial support allows them to afford basic necessities.

One woman was 39 when she was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. She had surgery to remove a tumor, however, the cancer returned a few years later and she was told she would only live a few more years.

Twelve years have passed, but the cancer has had a huge impact on her life. Dealing with the disease and the subsequent effects left her without a family, a job or even a home.

The woman began receiving disability benefits two years ago and she has become an advocate for other people with debilitating injuries and illnesses. She is fighting to change the laws governing disability benefits. She hopes to change the resource limit for those who receive Supplemental Security Income benefits from $2,000 to $20,000.

In addition, she hopes that the Social Security Administration will one day take into consideration an individual’s income earned during their entire career, rather than just the last ten years as they use the credit of work calculator.

Although the woman’s cancer completely altered her life, she now has a greater appreciation for those with disabilities.

“It wasn’t until I was disabled two years ago that I got a sense of the loss of dignity experienced by the disabled,” the woman said. “When you are disabled, you can’t support your family. The economics of disability really decrease the quality of life that people have.”

Chicago residents who are unable to work because of an injury or illness would be wise to consult with an experienced attorney who can help them through the application process and fight to get them the benefits they deserve.

Source: Dayton Daily News, “Cancer survivor advocate for disability rights of all,” Susan Dalzell, May 2, 2012

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