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Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits With Prostate Cancer


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1/25/2017
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Older man with prostate cancerOver 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. every year. Although it is one of the highest causes of cancer-related death among men, it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer and responds well to treatment. This seemingly contradictory condition makes it difficult for many patients to prove that they are qualified to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Prostate Cancer Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

The simplest way a person can qualify for disability benefits is to meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) blue book listing for prostate cancer. Patients whose cancer is significantly advanced or terminal will automatically be approved for benefits, while those who are responding well to treatment may have to work harder to prove the extent of their conditions to SSA.

You may be able to collect benefits if your prostate cancer has:

  • Recurred. If your cancer has gotten worse or returned after a period of remission despite initial treatment, you may qualify for benefits. Your application should include conclusive evidence of recurrence, such as radiological studies and dated treatment records.
  • Metastasized. Patients whose cancer has metastasized, or spread to lymph nodes or internal organs, are considered to be in the most dire need of assistance. Not only are these applications usually approved, they can receive expedited review and approval under the Compassionate Allowances program. Patients will need to provide medical evidence of their conditions, including biopsies, imaging scans, and pathology reports showing a positive cancer diagnosis. 
  • Been diagnosed as small-cell. Small-cell carcinoma (also called oat cell) of the prostate is comparatively rare, making up less than 2% of prostate cancer diagnoses. These cancer cells are smaller, but grow more quickly and are more likely to spread to the bones, lungs, or liver than traditional prostate cancer. As a result, oat cell carcinoma disability applications are usually approved more quickly by the SSA.
  • Stopped you from working. If your prostate cancer is responding well to treatment, you may not qualify for benefits based on the Blue Book requirements. However, you may still be able to collect disability if you can prove that the symptoms of your condition are preventing you from keeping a job or earning a substantial amount of income. This requires a special test issued by the SSA called residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA will examine how limited you are in your daily activities by your cancer or its side effects. The SSA will determine if your condition prevents you from working in your usual job, but also if there is any sustaining work that you could realistically perform. If your job is physically demanding, you may be able to receive benefits based on fatigue or a doctor’s restrictions on your capabilities.
  • Disabling side effects. If you do not meet the Blue Book disability listing, you may qualify for benefits if the side effects of your treatment makes it difficult or impossible for you to work. For example, if you undergo regular chemotherapy sessions and have a compromised immune system, you may be placed at risk of infection by working in a normal everyday environment. Your treatments may also cause cognitive problems, affecting your ability to solve problems or recall information. You will have to provide evidence of your symptoms and reports from your doctor to support any claims you make about your limitations.

Even if your prostate cancer qualifies you for benefits, you will still need to go through the application and approval process. If you have not yet applied, please feel free to download our free report on Social Security disabilities, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. If you have been denied benefits or are having trouble gathering the necessary medical records to back up your claim, please use the contact form on this page to speak with an attorney about your case.



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