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Qualifying for Social Security benefits after an organ transplant

If you or someone you love received an organ transplant, or is on the waitlist for an organ transplant, you may be eligible for assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly financial assistance for people who are unable to work due to a disability. The good news is that almost everyone who requires an organ transplant will qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The Blue Book and qualifications

The SSA uses its own manual of qualifying criteria for disability when evaluating your claim. This robust resource, known colloquially as the Blue Book, contains the medical test results or symptoms needed for hundreds of conditions to qualify. The listings for organ transplants are very simple—you should medically qualify for disability for at least 12 months after surgery. The following transplants are all eligible:

It’s important to note that recipients of lung transplants will qualify for a full three years after surgery. Additionally, only organ transplant recipients will be eligible for disability benefits. If you’ve donated an organ or bone marrow, you will not be eligible for Social Security disability.

Qualifying before surgery

You may be on the waitlist for an organ transplant and be worried about meeting the Blue Book criteria due to the fact that you may have to wait years for your transplant. The good news here is that people with organ failure could still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits while you wait for the transplant. There are Blue Book listings for the following conditions which often qualify for transplants:

  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • COPD
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Leukemia
  • Liver disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma

You can review the Blue Book with your doctor or oncologist to determine if your organ failure qualifies for benefits, but if you’re on the wait list for an organ transplant you’ll almost be guaranteed eligibility.

Starting your application

The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. You can even save your progress to be completed at a later date if you’d prefer. If you need help applying from someone in person, you can always apply at your closest Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 SSA offices located across the country. To make an appointment to apply in person, call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

It should take three to five months for the SSA to process your claim. Once approved, you can focus on what’s important: your health.

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