Prostate cancer is when cells overgrow in the prostate, a gland located around the male urethra. The most common form of terminal cancer in men over 75 is prostate cancer.
If you have prostate cancer, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your medical history to determine if you automatically qualify for benefits. The SSA usually makes this type of decision based on if you have been out of work, or expect to be out of work, for a 12-month period. You will automatically be considered disabled if your prostate cancer falls under one of these categories:
- Progressive prostate cancer, which means you develop a new tumor even while undergoing treatment
- Recurrent prostate cancer, which means your original cancer returns despite treatment
- Prostate cancer with visceral metastases, which means that your cancer has spread to other organs in the body. Note that you do not need to undergo a biopsy to prove this type of cancer – a CT scan or MRI will do.
The SSA will also look at the results of a test on a sample of your prostate tissue, called a biopsy, to see if you test positive for prostate cancer. They will also want to determine if the cancer originated in your prostate or another part of your body.
One helpful test to include with your medical history is a PSA test, or prostate specific antigen test. This is a blood test that determines how many cancerous cells specific to prostate cancer are in your system. High levels of PSA in your blood indicate that prostate cancer is possible, but a biopsy is the only true way to diagnose this type of cancer. The results from your PSA should still be included with your medical history to help your case.
If the cancer spread from your prostate to other parts of your body, you may also include those medical records, as well as reports from any surgeries you have had to remove cancer in your prostate.
One successful treatment for prostate cancer involves lowering testosterone levels through hormone therapy or removal of the testes. The SSA often delays their decision for a three-month period to see if you have been responding to treatment.
One very rare type of prostate cancer, small cell prostate cancer, is included under the Compassionate Allowances program. Under this program, the SSA will quickly approve disability benefits for the most serious conditions. If you qualify for this program, the necessary information about your type of prostate cancer should be included on all relevant medical forms.
If you have prostate cancer but do not automatically qualify for disability benefits through the criteria of the SSA, there are still options available to you. The SSA will determine your residual functional capacity, or RFC, to see if you are able to work under your condition. Your RFC is a combination of your medical history and statements on your application from yourself and doctors about your limitations on the job.
Prostate cancer can often lead to frequent urination and weakness in the legs, which can make it difficult to perform certain jobs. The SSA will determine if your symptoms keep you from performing your current job, and then look at your education level and background to see if there is another job you may reasonably hold, before determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits.