The cost of treatment for a brain tumor – surgery, concomitant treatment (including hospitalization) can exceed $500,000. Patients and their families most certainly need advice on how to proceed facing this kind of cost – and where to turn for financial guidance.

Financial Resources
brain tumor quoteIf opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.-Milton Berle
Asking for financial advice can be intimidating given the amount of monies necessary. Finding the right place to go to for such support is key. Help can come from many private and federal sources, but it takes a lot of time and effort to figure out what is actually available to you.

Having a financial counselor or consultant can be beneficial in your effort to work through the maze of what money resources are available for you.

Applying for Social Security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for those in need. Social Security disability benefits can be the source of financial support through the following two programs:


SSDI insurance provides monthly benefits for disabled workers – and sometimes their dependents – for those who meet the qualifications. To receive these benefits, you will be asked to provide a work history during which you paid Social Security taxes.


SSI insurance provides monthly benefits to disabled individuals of any age – including those without any work history requirements. However applicants are required to show “financial need”, particularly that one must show income and asset limits  in order to receive these benefits.

It is important to know that many people are able to receive support through this program, and some disabled workers can even receive benefits through both SSDI and SSI at the same time.

Qualifying for Benefits

Both of the SSA’s disability programs require the patient to satisfy medical eligibility rules before benefits can be granted.

A brain tumor is most often an automatic medical qualification meeting the SSA’s Blue Book listing for the condition. (The Blue Book is a medical guide that outlines severity level and medical evidence for supporting a claim). SSA coverage includes malignant brain tumors that develop in the brain or central nervous system as they are illnesses that can be highly aggressive forms of cancer that typically do not respond well to treatment.

This is why the SSA requires minimal medical evidence and often considers these cancers for expedited review under the “compassionate allowances” or “CAL” program.

CAL conditions automatically satisfy medical eligibility requirements, though the SSA must still see a few pieces of medical evidence to evaluate a claim. CAL conditions are processed much faster than typical disability applications. Some applicants are approved in as little as 10 days.

How to Apply for Benefits
The SSDI application is available online on the SSA’s website, but to submit an application for SSI, an appointment with an SSA officer in-person is necessary.

To schedule your appointment, call 800.772.1213. You will need to schedule an appointment ahead of time before visiting the office in person.


Additional Resources



CancerCare’s A Helping Hand, Financial Edition
A Resource Guide for People With Cancer


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Medicare Rights Center


Social Security Disability Resource Center

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Cleaning For A Reason

A nonprofit organization that serves the United States and Canada. Their mission is to give the gift of free house cleaning to women undergoing treatment for any type of cancer.

The Corporate Angel Network


The Corporate Angel Network offers free air travel to cancer patients traveling to treatment.

National Patient Air Transport


The National Patient Air Transport HELPLINE offers free and discounted air travel to patients in need of transportation for medical reasons.

CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation


Helps people afford the cost of co-payments for chemotherapy and targeted treatment drugs.

Co-Pay Relief Program


The CPR program provides financial support to insured patients who qualify to access pharmaceutical co-pay assistance. The program offers call counselors who guide patients through the enrollment process.

Friends of Man


Population served: Children, families, elderly, the disabled and those who fall through the safety net of available assistance.

Mission: Friends of Man, the charitable arm of the Institute for the New Man, gives help to people who find themselves in a situation where they have nowhere else to turn. Each case is considered on an individual basis in relation to guidelines which accompany the application. Referrals are accepted from professionals such as social workers, teachers, health providers, clergy.

Examples of help provided include, but not limited to: Mobility Equipment: (prostheses, wheelchairs, van lifts, and modifications, ramps, home modifications); Medical Equipment and Procedures such as Hearing Aids, Dentures, Glasses; Clothing for Children, Food, Short-term Daycare, Prescriptions, Cobra/Health Insurance.

Helping Other People Everyday (HOPE)


Population served: Patients in the U.S. needing brand name medications

Mission:HOPE is an organization that specializes in matching you with medicine and prescription assistance programs.
Applicants must have an income that falls in their allowed range to qualify, and not have prescription drug coverage.

Needy Meds


Population served: People needing financial assistance for medication and related health care costs in the U.S.

Other language(s): Spanish. Brochures in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Khmer (Cambodian) explain how to use website.

Mission: To help people in need find financial assistance programs that help them afford their medications and costs related to health care. Needy Meds is an online information resource. Offers information about: Coupons, rebates, discounts and more offered by various drug companies.

Application Assistance: organizations that assist patients with completing Patient Assistance Program (PAP) applications for free or a small fee.

Disease-Based Assistance programs: for specific diseases or medical conditions. Free and low cost clinics searchable by state.

Drug Discount Cards to help people save on their prescriptions; vary widely from company to company

Needy Meds free discount card that you can download from the website; requires no registration or identifying information.



Population served: Patients in the U.S., caregivers, professionals

Other language(s): Spanish

Mission: A coalition of pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other health care providers, and community groups that help qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need for free or nearly free.
Offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs, including nearly 200 offered by pharmaceutical companies.
Offers additional website designed to help low-income, uninsured kids get access to patient assistance programs where they may qualify for free, or nearly free, prescription medicines.

Patient Access Network Foundation


Mission: The PAN Foundation provides assistance to underinsured patients. Patients or a member of their medical team can apply online or over the phone; a determination for assistance is generally made within one business day.

Patient Advocate Foundation


Mission: PAF offers information about financial resources and mediation services to assure access to care, maintenance of employment and financial stability. Look for the Underinsured, Uninsured, and Financial Resource Directories, with the information about alternative coverage options (

Rx Assist

Website only

Population served: Patients in the U.S. needing financial assistance to obtain needed medications, health professionals

Mission: RxAssist is an online resource center with information about patient assistance programs, Medicare Part D, programs for low cost medications and other issues related to pharmaceutical access.

Rx Hope

Population served: Patients in the U.S. needing financial assistance to obtain needed medications, health professionals

Mission: To help patients determine if they are eligible for pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance programs (for free or discounted brand name drugs) and then help guide patients through that process.



A non-profit pharmacy whose mission is to provide affordable medications.

Together Rx Access

Gives access to immediate savings on hundreds of brand-name and generic prescription products at neighborhood pharmacies to individuals and families without prescription drug coverage.
Legal Assistance

American Bar Association


Cancer + Careers

Cancer + Careers offers information on what you need to know about your rights in the workplace, how to navigate the health insurance maze, how to maximize job security/benefits and how to minimize stress when dealing with the avalanche of paperwork and red tape that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Legal Resource Center


The CLRC provides free and confidential information and resources on cancer-related legal issues for anyone coping with cancer.

LawHelp helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers questions about legal rights, and helps with their legal problems.

Legal Services Corporation


National Cancer Legal Services Network

NCLSN is a coalition of legal advice providers who offer some free legal services programs to people affected by cancer.

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship


Survivorship A-Z

Mission: Survivorship A-Z is a web-based resource providing practical, legal and financial information. The site includes the ability to make a computer-generated profile, personalized to your legal, financial, and social situation.
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