Qualifying for Social Security Disability With Prostate Cancer
Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer might qualify
for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly financial resources for people who are unable to work due to an illness. While prostate cancer does not “automatically” qualify for disability benefits,thousands of men are able to qualify every year.
Medically Qualifying With the Blue Book
The SSA uses its own medical guide known as the Blue Book to determine whether or not an applicant’s illness qualifies for disability benefits. Prostate cancer’s qualifications can be found in Section 13.24 of the Blue Book. Your cancer will qualify if one of the following is true:
• Your prostate cancer is progressive or recurrent despite hormonal
• Your prostate cancer has spread to internal organs
• Your prostate cancer is small cell/oat cell, which is usually more aggressive and harder to treat
*There are two notes with this listing. Biochemical recurrence will not count for the first qualification. Additionally, the SSA requests progression despite hormonal intervention because it’s commonly the standard care for men with prostate cancer, but if your oncologist started you immediately with chemotherapy and your cancer returned, you will qualify all the same.
The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review the prostate cancer listing with your oncologist to know if you’ll qualify.
Medically Qualifying Through a Medical Vocational Allowance
The Blue Book listing can be challenging for men with prostate cancer to meet, as every qualification requires an advanced diagnosis. Don’t be disheartened though—
any people who will be out of work for at least 12 months are able to qualify without the Blue Book. This is done through what’s called a “Medical Vocational Allowance.”
Simplified, a Medical Vocational Allowance is the SSA’s way of “allowing” you to receive disability benefits not because you meet a Blue Book listing, but because your disability prevents you from performing any work that you’re qualified for.
Your work history is critically important when applying for a Medical Vocational Allowance, as those with active and labor-intensive jobs will have an easier time proving their prostate cancer will keep them from working for at least one year. Younger men with college degrees will have a much tougher time qualifying, as the SSA believes young adults will have an easier time getting retrained to work at a sedentary job while receiving treatments, and people with college degrees have
many skills that could be utilized at different jobs.
A Medical Vocational Allowance approval relies heavily on a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation. An RFC is an SSA-standard document that outlines exactly how much weight you can lift, how long you can sit or stand, etc. You can download an RFC online for your doctor or oncologist to fill out on your behalf. Pay special attention to the “Notes” section—This final component of an RFC is where
you can thoroughly describe exactly how your prostate cancer hormonal therapies,chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments prevent you from working.
Starting Your Disability Application
The vast majority of men with prostate cancer can apply online. This is the easiest way to apply, as you can save your progress to complete at a later date. If you’re so inclined, you can also apply at your closest Social Security office. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to start your application. Most applicants will hear back from the SSA within five months, but men with advanced prostate cancer may have their claims expedited. If your cancer has spread to other organs, you could be approved in as little as 10 days.