Testicular cancer and the treatments for this type of cancer can cause physical impairments that make it difficult to work for a period of time. Social Security disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are available for individuals who are unable to work due to this cancer.
Types of Testicular Cancer
The testicles are located in the scrotum, underneath the penis. There are two main types of cancer that can occur there.
- Seminomas is a slow growing type of cancer that generally stays contained within the testicles, though it can spread into the lymph nodes. This type of cancer reacts well to radiation therapy.
- Nonseminomas is a cancer that grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other areas of the body.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
To qualify for disability benefits, you must show that you either meet the criteria for Social Security's impairment listing for cancer of the testicles or that there is no type of job that you are still able to perform.
Meeting the Listing for Testicular Cancer
There is a specific listing (Listing 13.25) that addresses testicular cancer. To meet this listing, you must prove that you have a cancerous tumor that has spread or reoccurred despite an initial round of chemotherapy.
You should make sure your medical records includes:
- the type of testicular cancer you have
- evidence that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, and
- the treatment you have undergone, including the types, doses, and length of treatment and the effects of treatment.
There are also other listings that those with testicular cancer may meet. For those who have had cancer that has reoccurred after surgery or radiation, stem cell transplantations can be used. If individuals have stem cell transplants, they may automatically qualify for disability under Listing 13.28, malignant neoplastic diseases (cancer) treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.
Those who have long-term side effects from the treatments, including hearing loss or kidney problems, may qualify for listings under the effected body organ (see our complete list of listed conditions).
Equaling the Listing for Cancer of the Testicles
You can be approved for benefits if your condition doesn't exactly match the listing but is considered equal in severity to it. For those with testicular cancer that has been treated with radiation or surgery rather then chemotherapy, and has spread despite those treatments, they will likely be able to "equal" the above listing. Even though they didn't have chemotherapy, as radiation and surgery are common forms of treatment for testicular cancer, it's possible that these cancers could be treated without chemotherapy and would be eligible for benefits.
Showing There Are No Jobs You Can Do
Those who do not meet or equal a listing may be able to qualify for benefits if they can show they can't do their prior job and there are no other jobs they can perform because of their symptoms and limitations. Social Security will look at applicants' symptoms and physical, mental, and sensory limitations in an Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to determine if they are able to work.
Testicular cancer has many symptoms that are particular to the disease, including:
- pain in the testicles, back, or lower abdomen
- swelling or enlargement of the testicle
- bruising or bleeding
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- kidney damage
- hearing loss, and
- lung damage.
The symptoms of testicular cancer generally don't affect a person's mental faculties, but one's physical and sensory abilities are often impaired by the cancer and the treatments used to cure the cancer. Those who have testicular cancer who are actively receiving treatment may suffer from side effects that affect their physical capabilities, including pain from the cancer itself, and fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or infections from the treatments. Long-term side effects from testicular cancer, including nerve damage and lung damage, may also affect their ability to do physical work permanently. Long-term effects of testicular cancer treatment can also affects one's sensory capabilities, such as hearing and nerve sensations, which can affect applicants' ability to adapt to certain job environments. If you have limitations like these that last for at least a year, Social Security may agree that there are no jobs you can perform. (See our series of articles on how Social Security decides if there is work you can do.)
Length of Disability
Those who are determined to be disabled due to testicular cancer will start to receive benefits and will continue to be considered disabled for up to three years from the date of remission. Individuals who continue to have limitations after three years on benefits can try to qualify for benefits under the specific body areas that continued to be impaired.