Can I Get Disability Benefits Because of Testicular Cancer?

If you have testicular cancer that has spread or recurred, you can automatically qualify for disability benefits.

By , J.D. · Albany Law School
Updated by Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Testicular cancer and cancer treatments can cause physical impairments that make working difficult—at least for a while. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two disability programs that pay benefits to individuals who can't work due to medical conditions like testicular cancer:

While the two programs have different financial and work history requirements, the medical requirements are the same. Read on to learn how to qualify for Social Security or SSI disability benefits for testicular cancer.

Types of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer, as the name suggests, is cancer that grows in the tissue of one or both testicles. The testicles are located in the scrotum, beneath the penis. Two main types of cancer can occur there:

  • Seminomas are slow-growing cancers that stay contained within the testicles but can spread into the lymph nodes. This type of cancer generally reacts well to radiation therapy.
  • Nonseminoma germ cell tumors are cancers that grow more quickly and are more likely to spread to other body areas.

Stromal tumors can also develop in the testicles, and although they're often harmless, they can be cancerous. There are two kinds of stromal tumors:

  • Leydig cell tumors start in the cells that make testosterone.
  • Sertoli cell tumors are usually benign tumors that form in cells that support developing sperm.

Cancer can also spread to your testicles from another part of your body (called "secondary testicular cancer"). The most common type is lymphoma.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits for Testicular Cancer

To qualify for disability benefits for testicular cancer, you must prove one of the following:

  • Your medical condition meets the criteria for Social Security's impairment listing for testicular cancer.
  • Your medical condition equals the severity of a listing, or
  • There's no type of job you can still do.

Meeting Social Security's Listing for Testicular Cancer

Social Security has a list of impairments the agency considers serious enough to qualify for benefits. If your condition meets the requirements of a listing, you'll win your claim.

To meet the requirements of the testicular cancer listing (listing 13.25), you must prove you have a cancerous tumor that's spread beyond your testicle(s) or recurred despite an initial round of chemotherapy. To prove you meet the listing, your medical records must include:

  • the type of testicular cancer you have
  • evidence that the cancer has spread to other areas of your body (or returned), and
  • a record of the treatments you've undergone, including the following:
    • treatment types and doses
    • length of treatments, and
    • effects of treatments.

Your testicular cancer might also meet other listings. For example, anyone who's had a stem cell transplant (sometimes used in recurrent testicular cancer) automatically meets listing 13.28, "cancer treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation." So, if your battle against testicular cancer includes a stem cell transplant, you'll meet the listing for 12 months after your procedure.

If you've had long-term side effects from your cancer treatments, including hearing loss or kidney problems, you might qualify for the listings under the affected body part. (Learn more about which conditions are listed conditions).

Equaling the Listing for Cancer of the Testicles

You might qualify for disability benefits even if your condition doesn't quite match a listing—if it's considered equally severe to a listing. For instance, if your testicular cancer was treated with radiation or surgery rather than chemotherapy and has still spread, you'll likely be able to "equal" the testicular cancer listing.

(Learn more about how to qualify for disability by equaling a listing.)

Showing There's No Job You Can Do After Testicular Cancer

If you don't meet or equal a listing, you might qualify for benefits by showing that you can no longer work. But you'll need to prove that the symptoms and limitations of your testicular cancer mean:

  • You can't do your prior job, and
  • There are no other jobs you can perform.

Social Security will look at your symptoms and limitations (physical, mental, and sensory) in a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment to determine whether you can work.

There are many symptoms of testicular cancer that can be severe enough to affect your daily functioning, including:

  • pain in the testicles, back, or lower abdomen
  • swelling, bruising, or enlargement of the testicle
  • fatigue
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • infections
  • kidney damage
  • hearing loss, and
  • lung damage.

The treatments for testicular cancer often have side effects that can impair your physical abilities, including:

  • fatigue
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite, or
  • infections.

Long-term side effects from testicular cancer, including nerve or lung damage, can permanently affect your ability to do physical work. And the long-term effects of cancer treatment can impair sensory capabilities, like hearing and nerve sensations, which can affect your ability to perform some jobs.

It's also not uncommon for cancer patients to develop mental conditions like anxiety or depression. Be sure to tell Social Security if you have even a moderate mental condition, as having both mental and physical impairments can help your disability claim. (Learn more about getting disability with multiple impairments.)

If your physical and/or mental limitations caused by testicular cancer last a year or more, Social Security might agree that there's no work you can still do.

How Long Do Disability Benefits for Testicular Cancer Last?

If Social Security finds that you're disabled due to testicular cancer, you can receive disability benefits for up to three years after your remission date. If you continue to have limitations after receiving benefits for three years, you can try to qualify for benefits under the specific body part or system that's still impaired.

How to Apply for Disability for Testicular Cancer

The fastest way to apply for disability is to complete the online application. You can also call the national office at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) to make an appointment to apply by phone. Or contact your local Social Security office to apply in person.

Learn more about the Social Security disability application process.

Updated February 6, 2024

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