disability benefits with prostate cancer

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Prostate Cancer

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, finances should not have to become your first priority. Sadly, many families find that they are unable to make ends meet after a prostate cancer diagnosis. If your prostate cancer is severe enough to keep you from working, you could be eligible for assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits for people with severe illnesses or disabilities.

What Types of Benefits are Available?

There are two forms of disability benefits available to men with prostate cancer. Medically, qualifications for both are exactly the same; however, each program does come with its own technical qualifications.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the form of benefits that most men will qualify for. It is granted to people who have worked all their lives and are currently unable to work due to a sudden illness or recent disability.

If you’ve worked at least part-time jobs for most of your life, and have been working for any five of the past ten years, you have likely earned enough “work credits” to qualify for SSDI benefits. All SSDI applicants will be enrolled onto Medicare 24 months after the onset of their disability or illness.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to people who have little-to-no financial resources. This means that no matter how advanced your prostate cancer is, you will not qualify if you have a spouse who earns a living wage. In most states, SSI recipients are automatically enrolled onto Medicaid.

How to Medically Qualify with Prostate Cancer

Every time the SSA receives an application for disability benefits, it compares the medical records of the applicant to its medical guide known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists the test results or symptoms needed for someone to qualify for disability benefits.

Prostate cancer is listed in Section 13.24 of the Blue Book—Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. To qualify with prostate cancer, you must be able to show one of the following:

  • Your prostate cancer has grown or returned despite hormonal treatment (the only exception to this is a biochemical recurrence, or a rise in a prostate-specific antigen).
  • Your prostate cancer has spread to internal organs.
  • Your prostate cancer is small-cell (oat cell).

Speak with your doctor to confirm whether or not your cancer will medically qualify for disability benefits.

Qualifying Without Meeting the Blue Book Listing

If your prostate cancer has not progressed as far as the Blue Book qualifications, you could still potentially receive disability benefits. This is done through an RFC, or a Residual Functional Capacity exam. An RFC is a detailed evaluation your oncologist can fill out for you that will indicate what physical limitations you have due to chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or other treatments. An RFC will determine how long you are able to sit or stand, how much weight you can lift, how far you can walk, and more.

Your age and education will be taken into consideration when you submit an application with an RFC. Older men with no college degree will have a much higher chance of getting approved than someone who is younger and who has a desk job and college degree. This is because older adults are less likely to be retrained for a desk job, and often do not have any relevant job experience if they’ve only had careers on their feet all day.

Applying for Disability Benefits

If you qualify for SSDI benefits, the easiest way to apply is directly online. If you qualify for SSI benefits, you can start the application online, but you will need to finish the application in person at your local SSA office.

When applying, be sure to list every doctor, oncologist, and hospital where you’ve been treated. The more medical evidence you have on your side, the better your odds of getting approved.


Prostate Cancer: https://www.hifuprostateservices.com/

What is SSDI? https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disability-insurance/how-to-qualify

Work Credits: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/credits.html#&a0=2

What is SSI? https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/supplemental-security-income/how-to-qualify

SSA Blue Book Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/13.00-NeoplasticDiseases-Malignant-Adult.htm#13_24

Residual Functional Capacity Form: https://www.ardfky.org/sites/ardfky.org/files/Physical%20RFC.pdf

Local SSA Office: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

Cendy Moliere

View posts by Cendy Moliere
Cendy Moliere works for Disability Benefits Center, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages and conditions receive Social Security disability benefits. If you have any questions on how to qualify with prostate cancer or about the disability process in general, feel free to reach out to our team at help@ssd-help.org 

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