The likelihood that prostate cancer has touched you or someone you know is quite high. With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. In fact, one in every nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. During the month of September, many people don light blue ribbons to bring awareness to this common disease.
Why an Awareness Month for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer, especially once advanced, can be deadly. Second only to lung cancer when it comes to cancer mortality, prostate cancer takes the lives of 1 out of every 41 men who have the disease. However, the majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.
September has been designated prostate cancer awareness month to bring education, attention, funding, and support to those impacted by the illness. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men be educated about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. The good news is that if detected early, prostate cancer is 99% treatable.
How Can Someone with Prostate Cancer Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Individuals with prostate cancer often wonder if they will be able to continue working given their newly diagnosed condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial support to those who are unable to work due to a medical condition such as prostate cancer. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
The most straight-forward way to earn disability benefits for prostate cancer is by meeting a Blue Book listing. The Blue Book is a medical guide used by the SSA to determine what conditions qualify for disability. Prostate cancer can be found in section 13.24 of the Blue Book, prostate gland carcinoma.
To meet a Blue Book listing for prostate cancer, an individual must have a progressive form of the disease that is advancing despite hormonal medical treatment. In other words, a person’s illness must be getting worse even though they are receiving treatment. Additionally, if one’s prostate cancer is spreading to distant organs, they will be considered for disability benefits. Individuals with small cell carcinoma of the prostate are automatically eligible for disability assistance. Meeting a Blue Book listing requires not only a diagnosis, but substantial medical evidence, such as biopsy results, oncology reports, operative notes, and PET or CT scans to illustrate metastasis.
What If I Don’t Meet or Match a Blue Book Listing for My Prostate Cancer?
As the majority of individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer do not have an advanced form, not all individuals with prostate cancer will meet a Blue Book listing for their impairment. If you do not meet the criteria recorded in the Blue Book, it is possible to earn a disability award through a medical-vocational allowance.
Once it becomes apparent that an individual does meet a Blue Book listing, the medical record will be reviewed by an examiner to determine what kinds of functional limitations the individual might have. For example, you might have an early stage of cancer, but the side effects of the hormone therapy may be causing such significant health difficulties that you are still unable to work. If this is the case for you, the SSA will evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC classification will determine the most that you can perform when it comes to work activities.
Individuals with prostate cancer may have to undergo hormone therapy, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. All of these therapies have the potential for significant side effects including fatigue, bowel or urinary incontinence, and memory loss. While the prostate cancer itself may not be contributing to your inability to work, the side-effects of the treatment might make it difficult or impossible to work.
If your job is physically strenuous, you might be able to prove that your prostate cancer or treatments have impacted your ability to perform your job. Your age, work history, and the severity of your prostate cancer will all come into consideration when determining whether or not you can continue working. Those who are less educated, have less specialized skills, and who are older, are more likely to be approved for SSDI benefits under a medical-vocational allowance.
How Do I Start the Disability Application Process for Prostate Cancer?
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are unable to work, you should consider filing a Social Security Disability application. While the form can be completed online, it is complex. Working with a qualified Social Security attorney can help you determine whether or not you have enough evidence to win your case for prostate cancer.