Applying for Disability with Prostate Cancer

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are unable to work, you may be worried about making ends meet. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial benefits for people who are unable to work due to an illness.

Metastatic, late stage, and terminal prostate cancers automatically meet the SSA’s medical eligibility requirements for disability benefits. Prostate cancer that is diagnosed early and response to treatment, however, may or may not qualify you for benefits.

If your cancer is advanced, has recurred, or is inoperable or resistant to treatment, then you can typically get a decision on your application within just a few weeks. If your prostate cancer was caught early and treated appropriately but has nonetheless has left you unable to work, you will have an uphill battle ahead to get approved for disability benefits.

Medically Qualifying Under the Prostate Cancer Listing

There is a standard disability listing for prostate cancer in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a medical guide used by the SSA when handling all applications for disability benefits. Prostate cancer appears under 13.24 and requires your cancer has progressed or returned after initial treatment, or that you have metastatic prostate cancer that has spread to internal organs. Oat or small cell carcinoma qualifies for benefits under this listing as well.

Even if you meet this listing, you must still submit a thorough and complete application for benefits and you must have the required medical evidence to support your claim. When you apply for benefits, you will give the SSA permission to obtain your medical records. These records with your primary doctor, oncologist, urologist, and other healthcare providers serve as supporting evidence in your disability case file.

The specific evidence required depends on the type, grade, and stage of your prostate cancer. Generally speaking, though, the following medical records are necessary to be approved under the Blue Book listing:

  • Biopsy results or other diagnostic tests, documenting the type of cancer
  • A report from your oncologist, explaining the diagnosis, treatments and their affects, and the prognosis
  • If your cancer has metastasized, then X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, or other radiological exams are required
  • Surgical or operative reports, if your prostate cancer treatment included removal of the prostate gland, lymph nodes, or metastatic tumors

Early Stage Prostate Cancer and Disability Benefits

When caught early and appropriately treated, most prostate cancers are survivable. Some men also do not experience significant, lasting side effects or complications from their cancer or cancer treatments. Every patient is different. If you, however, are unable to continue working after diagnosis and treatment, then you may be able to qualify for benefits despite not meeting the SSA’s disability listing.

A “residual functional capacity” or RFC analysis is necessary to get benefits without meeting a listed disability. Through this additional review, the SSA examines your daily limitations caused by your cancer, cancer treatments, and by any other medical conditions you may have. If they find your limitations prevent you from working in any job for which you possess the education, training, or skills, then you will be found eligible for benefits.

Applying for Benefits

If you’re able to qualify, you may get benefits through one or both of the SSA’s disability programs. There is a separate application required for each.

For SSI, you must apply via a personal interview. This is usually done at your local SSA office. SSI benefits are for people of all ages who do not have a strong work history.
For SSDI, you can apply in person or online, via the SSA’s website. SSDI is for adults aged 18-65 who have worked throughout their lives.

You can get additional information about the application process and the kinds of information you’ll be required to provide by reviewing the SSA’s disability starter kit. You can also contact the SSA directly by calling 1-800-772-1213. With careful medical documentation of your prostate cancer, you will hopefully receive a decision within a couple of months.

This article was contributed by the staff at Social Security Disability Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people with chronic illness and disabilities get the financial aid they need. For any additional information or resources, they can be reached at