Each year, about 8,500 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, and 350 men die from the illness, the Testicular Cancer Society reported. This type of cancer is often diagnosed young, and is the most common form affecting men between the ages of 15 and 35.
If you or a loved one is struggling with testicular cancer, you maybe be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government organization that offers help to those who can't work due to a disability.
Financial Costs of Testicular Cancer
In a study done at the University of Kansas, researchers found that the cost of treating advanced stage testicular cancer was about $50,000. If caught during the early stages, the disease costs between $18,0000 and $27,000 to treat.
Because most cases are diagnosed at an early age, there is a high rate of survival. About 80 percent of men will go into remission after only surgical removal of one or both testicles. The remaining 15-20 percent relapse and require another form of treatment, such a chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which can drive up costs.
If your cancer has spread to both testicles or you must undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you may want to store sperm for future use. Though the cost will ultimately range depending on where you go, you will have to pay for required testing (HIV, hepatitis, or others), freezing, and storage. For example. Fairfax Cyrobank in Fairfax, Virgina, charges $140 for testing, $350-$460 for freezing, and $24 per month for storage, in addition to other fees.
Another additional cost for patients could be testosterone replacement therapy. If both testicles are removed, your body will no longer produce testosterone, and the only way to fix this is testosterone replacement therapy. According to Men's Health, such treatments can cost up to $10,000 per year.
Medically Qualifying for Benefits with the Blue Book
Whenever the SSA receives an application for disability benefits, they first use the Blue Book to evaluate the claim. The Blue Book is the SSA's official list of disabilities that automatically qualify for benefits.
Testicular cancer can be found in section 13.00—Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases).
In order to be approved for benefits, your cancer has to have spread outside the testicles or be recurrent after an initial round of chemotherapy. If your cancer continues to persist, talk to your doctor about applying for disability benefits.
Qualifying Without Meeting a Medical Listing
If you cancer doesn't meet the Blue Book requirements, but you find the illness or treatment is too severe for you to work, then you may still be eligible for benefits. For those who don't qualify medically, the SSA will consider a medical-vocational allowance with your Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC).
As with all disability applications, your condition must be expected to last for at least 12 months and restricts you from working enough to meet the SSA's minimum substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit of $1,130 per month in 2016.
The SSA uses a long, detailed form filled out by our doctor about your symptoms and limitations to decide what kind of work they believe you can do: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy. If your placed in the latter two categories, your chances of approval are low. Using this information, they look over your work history and education to determine if there are jobs you are reasonably able to do.
Getting approved for an RFC may be difficult with testicular cancer because it generally affects younger men, but it's not impossible. Though the grid rules the SSA uses to decide on RFCs start at 45 years of age, you can argue that you're unable to do even sedentary work, for reasons like the need to miss too many work days for treatment or due to resulting infections, extreme fatigue, constant nausea and vomiting, pain, or numbness. Additionally, you can argue that working during or just after chemotherapy is impossible due to mental limitations, such as confusion or memory loss.
Men who don't have a high school or college degree and men who work in physically demanding industries such as firefighting, construction, retail, food service, or similar jobs usually have a higher chance of being approved on an RFC. Men with a college degree that worked in sedentary jobs may have a harder time getting approved.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
Because testicular cancer may be difficult to get an SSA approval, talk to your doctor before applying for benefits. The application process itself can take up to two years to get a favorable answer, so if your chances of approval aren't high and you or your don't don't think your disability will last long, it may not be worth the time the application takes.
If you do meet the Blue Book listing, make sure to include all of the necessary medical records with the initial application so your claim is reviewed and approved as soon as possible. Most claims are denied in the initial stage simply because key evidence is missing from the application.
Important medical evidence will include:
- Scrotal ultrasound.
- Transcrotal biopsy.
- Radical orichetomy, or surgical removal of one testicle.
- Other types of medical imaging, such as chest X-ray, MRI, CT scan, bone scan, and PET scan.
- Blood tests.
- Tumor markers, which test for levels of certain proteins or hormones in the blood stream created by cancerous cells.
- Operative reports and descriptions of any other hospitalizations.
- A detailed statement from your oncologist and/or primary care physician describing the severity of your condition and the limitations it causes you.
- Summaries of all treatments you've received, including length of time and outcome. For many applications, the SSA requires at least three months of longitudinal evidence showing that the treatment isn't working.
For most disability applications, you can use the SSA's online application. Make sure to check out their complete list of required documents before submitting your claim to give yourself the best chance of a speedy approval. Once your think your're ready to send it in, you should also check over the application to make sure there are no typos or unanswered questions.
These small mistakes can delay the SSA from getting the information they need to complete your case, and could cause you to be denied. If you want to apply for Supplementary Security Income, however, it must be done in person at an SSA office.
If your doctor chances your treatment regime, finds your cancer has spread, or it worsens in any other way while you're waiting for answer, contact the SSA immediately. New information could speed up a claim or help it get approved.
If you are approved for disability benefits, your spouse and children could also qualify for benefits. To learn more about the different forms about disability benefits, visit our pages on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.