Disability and Prostrate Cancer - Social Security Disability Benefits

Progressive, recurrent, or metastasized prostrate cancer automatically qualifies for disability benefits.

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Prostate cancer is a very common type of cancer for older men. It involves cells in the prostate gland, and most prostate cancer cases also involve adenocarcinoma, a cancer in the epithelial cells. Prostate cancer often metastasizes to bones and lymph nodes. (Also see disability for other prostate problems.)

Symptoms and Treatment

Because there aren't many symptoms in early prostate cancer, regular exams and routine blood work (PSA) are important. The PSA test often leads to an early diagnosis of the disease. While abnormally high levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen test) can mean prostate cancer, a biopsy is necessary to diagnose prostate cancer. 

Later symptoms can include the frequent need to urinate, painful or hesitant urination, or pain, weakness or stiffness in the lower back, pelvis, and legs.

Treatment of prostate cancer often involves radical surgical procedures, radiation, chemotherapy, and sometimes hormone therapy, in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. 

Disability Benefits for Prostate Cancer

The following types of prostate cancer qualify automatically for disability benefits:

  • Prostate cancer that progresses despite hormonal treatment. 
  • Prostate cancer that recurs despite hormonal treatment. 
  • Prostate cancer that has metastasized to other internal organs.

To qualify under the third option, you'll need a CT scan, MRI, or biopsy of the metastatic tumors. 

If your prostate cancer doesn't fall into one of the three categories above, but it significantly limits your ability to work a full-time job, you still may be able to get benefits. The SSA will give you a “residual functional capacity,” or RFC, to determine what you are still capable of doing. The RFC will include any limits you have on how long you can walk, stand, and sit, how much weight you can lift, and whether you need any accomodations like frequent rest or bathroom breaks. Prostate cancer patients who have the need to urinate frequently or have pain and stiffness in their hips and lower back should have these limitations in their RFC. 

If the SSA finds that, given your RFC limitations, age, education level, and job skills, there are no jobs you can do, you can be granted disability benefits via a “medical-vocational allowance.”

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