Childhood cancer survivors more likely to receive income support

Childhood cancer survivors are more likely than non-survivors to have health-related issues that result in the need for US Social Security support and disability programs.

Published: 3/1/15

Heart atop a stethoscope

Results of the Long-Term Follow-Up Study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute report that childhood cancer survivors are more likely than non-survivors to receive income support from US Social Security and disability programs. Survivors with severe or life-threatening health conditions were more often enrolled in these programs than those with mild, moderate, or no health conditions.

Many childhood cancer survivors are at risk of serious health-related challenges such as a second cancer diagnosis, heart disease, or other major medical complications. These types of health problems can interfere with survivors’ ability to work and support themselves.

This study shows that survivors are more than five times as likely to have ever been enrolled on a social security or disability income support program compared to people without a cancer history. Survivors who were four years old or younger when they were diagnosed were about seven time more likely to be on SSI (Social Security Income program) than those who were diagnosed in adolescence. In addition, females and people who had received radiation therapy to the head were more likely to be on SSI.

“This study provides evidence that the long-term impact of cancer can affect other issues besides health,” says Anne Kirchhoff, PhD, the study’s lead author. “We need to do a better job of helping people throughout their lives, not just right after they’re done with their cancer therapy.”

Fortunately, in response to this need, many hospitals are setting up long-term follow-up clinics. These clinics offer survivors health management support, health behavior support, and access to specialty healthcare providers, social workers, and counselors.


Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance Coverage Among Long-term Childhood Cancer Survivors. Kirchhoff AC, Parsons HM, Kuhlthau KA, Leisenring W, Donelan K, Warner EL, Armstrong GT, Robison LL, Oeffinger KC, Park ER. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Mar 13;107(6). pii: djv057. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv057. Print 2015 Jun.