Guest Blog Written By the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help
If you find yourself facing down a cancer diagnosis, you will likely be worried about making ends meet. Treatments are expensive and physically exhausting, meaning you may unable to work. Did you know that you might qualify for financial assistance if your cancer or its treatment will prevent you from earning income for at least 12 months? The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers resources for men with prostate or testicular cancer in need.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to qualify for Social Security benefits. Millions of people apply for disability benefits every year, so the processing time is less than ideal. A good way to know if you’ll be approved is to compare your specific cancer diagnosis to the SSA’s own medical guide, which is known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book will list exactly what test stage your cancer will need to be in order to qualify for disability benefits. Doing this research ahead of time can help prevent you from wasting time with an application that will ultimately get rejected.
Qualifying Without the Blue Book
If you’ve checked yourself regularly and were diagnosed at an earlier stage of cancer, you will not meet one of the SSA’s Blue Book listings. This doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t qualify! The SSA has a unique form of qualification known as a "Medical Vocational Allowance," which is intended for people with illnesses that don’t meet their respective Blue Book listings, but who will be unable to work for at least 12 months due to treatment side effects.
Medical Vocational Allowances are easier for men aged 50+ to qualify for, because the SSA thinks that older adults will have a tougher time getting retrained for another job. You’ll also have an easier time getting approved if you don’t have a college degree and have worked at labor-intensive jobs, because you may not have any relevant skills for sedentary work that might make earning income while going through treatments possible.
A Medical Vocational Allowance approval relies heavily on results from a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This is an SSA-standard document that goes over how much weight you can lift, your ability to sit or stand for long periods of time, and more. You can download an RFC online for your oncologist to fill out on your behalf.
Qualifying Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer
There are three ways to medically qualify for a prostate cancer diagnosis. You’ll need to meet one of the following criteria to qualify:
- Your cancer is progressive or returned despite hormonal treatment*
- Cancer has spread to other internal organs
- Your cancer is small cell, which is typically aggressive and hard to treat.
*Because many forms of prostate cancer are treated hormonally in lieu of chemotherapy, the SSA requirements specify that your cancer must return after receiving hormonal therapy. But if your cancer returns despite chemotherapy, you’ll still medically qualify.
Because prostate cancer has an excellent survival rate, especially when detected early, you will need to prove the cancer is quite advanced to qualify.
Qualifying Diagnosis: Testicular Cancer
Qualifying with testicular cancer is quite simple: If it’s spread beyond the testes, you’ll qualify for SSA disability benefits. In terms of progression, this means you need to be at Stage III to qualify. Stages IIIA or IIIB may not qualify if cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes but not the lungs.
Starting Your Application
The majority of men applying for disability benefits with cancer will be able to do so entirely online. This is the easiest way to apply, as you’ll be able to save your application to complete at a later date.
If you’d prefer to apply in person, you can always make an appointment with your local SSA office. You can call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to get the process started.
Securing Additional Help
The fact of the matter is that nobody wants to be ill enough to qualify for disability benefits. Prostate and testicular cancer take far too many young lives every year. If you find yourself in need of help while going through treatments, know that there could be financial assistance available for you. If you need additional help, always remember to speak up and speak out. You are not alone.
Medical Guardian is proud to support those who are enduring treatment for cancer by offering affordable medical monitoring services that can keep you connected to help should you experience a medical emergency.
This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.