Compared to most cancers, testicular cancer is relatively rare. However, it is the most common cancer in males aged 15 to 35 in North America. Approximately 410 men will die from testicular cancer each year in the United States. While it is a rare type of cancer, the incidence of testicular cancer among Caucasian men has more than doubled in the last forty years and has also begun to rise in African-American men as well.
If you have testicular 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 testicular cancer.
What Exactly Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs when cells within the testicles grow out of control. 90% of the cancers of the testicles grow out of the germ cells. They are classified as either seminomas and non-seminomas. Seminoma tumors are typically slower growing and are more responsive to radiation treatment than non-seminomas.
Most men detect testicular cancer by discovering a lump or swelling in the testicle. In some men, there may be a dull ache in the back, scrotum, or groin. Testicular cancer has four stages, ranging from stage 0 to stage III.
Treatment for testicular cancer varies depending on the stage. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and in some cases, stem cell transplants. If caught early, testicular cancer has a good chance of being cured. In fact, more than 90% of men who receive treatment will eventually make a full recovery. Unfortunately, infertility is a common side-effect for those with testicular cancer.
What Symptoms Do I Need to Qualify?
There is a range of symptoms that can be expected when you have testicular cancer, and they all might affect your ability to work differently. Here are some signs that your testicular cancer might qualify you for help from the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- If your testicular cancer returns after remission or if it progresses, despite treatment, you will likely qualify for assistance from the SSA.
- If your testicular cancer has spread (metastasized) to other internal organs, there is a high likelihood that you will be eligible for financial assistance.
- 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, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and headaches. 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 testicular cancer, you may be entitled to assistance. For example, those with prostate cancer may experience pain in their lower back or scrotum. If your job requires lifting or bending, you will be unlikely to be able to perform your job, and 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 testicular cancer or the treatment, 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 testicular 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.
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 testicular cancer from your doctor or oncologist.
- Physician notes detailing treatments, side-effects, and prognosis.
- Blood tests confirming your diagnosis of prostate cancer, including your HCG and AFP levels.
- Ultrasound, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, or other imaging results.
- Biopsy reports and pathology reports.
- Surgical reports if the testicle and/or lymph nodes were removed.
- 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 receiving SSDI benefits for prostate cancer.
I'm Ready to Apply--What’s Next?
If you have testicular 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.