Approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during their lifetime. Although prostate cancer is serious, the majority of men who have prostate cancer do not die from the disease. The severity of the illness is different for everyone. While some people will feel well, others may become severely debilitated from prostate cancer.
If you have prostate cancer, and your symptoms are so severe that you are unable to earn a gainful living, there could be financial help available to you. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program was created to assist those who have become disabled due to an illness such as prostate cancer.
What Exactly Is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate gland is a walnut-shaped organ that is responsible for secreting prostate fluid for the male reproductive system. Located between the penis and the bladder, this gland tends to enlarge as men age.
In the majority of men with prostate cancer, the cells in the prostate gland begin to grow out of control, also called an adenocarcinoma. Prostate cancer is a very slow-growing cancer, and it is much more common in men older than 65.
Initially, prostate cancer causes very few symptoms. As the disease progresses, men might experience difficulty with urinating. Some common symptoms include frequent urination, pain during urination, weak flow of urine, or blood in the urine. Many of these symptoms are similar to those who have enlarged prostate, or BPH. Later stage symptoms are often a result of the cancer spreading and include bone pain, weight loss, and fatigue.
Although prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death among men, it is a highly treatable disease if caught early. The 10-year survival rate is approximately 93%. Treatments depend on the patient’s age, health, and stage of the disease but may include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. In some cases, your doctor may decide on “active surveillance,” which simply means watching the cancer for progression.
What Symptoms Do I Need to Qualify?
There is a range of symptoms that can be expected when you have prostate cancer, and they all might affect your ability to work differently. Here are some signs that your prostate cancer might qualify you for help from the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- If your prostate cancer returns after remission or if it progresses, despite treatment, you will likely qualify for assistance from the SSA.
- If your prostate cancer has spread (metastasized) to other internal organs, there is a high likelihood that you will be eligible for financial assistance.
- If you have a small cell (oat) carcinoma of the prostate, you will qualify for benefits.
- If the side effects of your treatments cause symptoms that make it difficult to work you may qualify for benefits. Side effects of your radiation or chemotherapy may cause extreme exhaustion, nausea, or headaches. Additionally, you may be prone to other illness as a result of your treatment. If these symptoms are so severe that you might miss too much work, you may qualify for benefits.
- If you experience pain due to your prostate cancer, you may be entitled to assistance. For example, those with prostate cancer may experience pain in their back. If your job requires lifting or bending, and this is difficult for you, you may be eligible for social security benefits.
- If you experience memory loss, confusion, or mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, as a result of your prostate cancer, you may also qualify for benefits from the SSA.
Do I Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
To be eligible for Social Security benefits, your medical records will need to show that your symptoms from prostate cancer are severe enough to prevent you from working at a level which would support you. Additionally, your cancer needs to be disabling for at least 12 months. Early-stage prostate cancer will be unlikely to hinder your work too significantly, but every situation is different.
What Information Will I Need to Provide?
When applying for Social Security, you may be asked to provide the following documentation:
- Confirmation of your diagnosis of prostate cancer from your doctor or oncologist.
- Physician notes detailing treatments, side-effects, and prognosis.
- Blood tests confirming your diagnosis of prostate cancer, including your PSA levels.
- Transrectal ultrasound, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, or other imaging results that may help to confirm your diagnosis of prostate cancer.
- Prostate biopsy reports and pathology reports.
- Notes from your doctor, physical therapist, or other health care provider that describe your symptoms and illness.
If you do not have all of these medical records, contact your doctor’s office and hospital and begin compiling the information. The more medical evidence that you have on your side, the better your odds of being approved for disability benefits for prostate cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you believe that you may qualify for Social Security benefits, you should contact a disability advocate or lawyer in your area. A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. You should focus on your health and allow a qualified lawyer help you with the Social Security application process.