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VA Disability for Prostate Cancer

Many veterans only consider physical disabilities that can come from combat or training accidents; when they think of service-connected disabilities. Others know that mental health disorders, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, are also compensable disabilities that can result from military service.

What may be surprising to some veterans, though, is that another serious medical condition can trace its origins to their time in the military: cancer, including prostate cancer for men.

The Stone Rose Law firm represents veterans with disability claims, including claims for service-related cancers. If you are a veteran who has any kind of cancer, including prostate cancer, that you believe is connected to your time in active duty military service, call us at (480) 498-8998 to speak with a VA disability benefits attorney. We can help you understand your VA benefits options in a free initial consultation with one of our VA law specialists.

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland in men located underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum that produces seminal fluid. Prostate cancer occurs when cancer cells grow within the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer can take different forms, including tumors, various kinds of carcinomas, and sarcomas. It can develop slowly or quickly and can spread beyond the prostate.

An infographic defining prostate cancer.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, about one of every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives. In 2024, almost 300,000 new cases of prostate will occur.
  • Military service members are up to twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as the population in general.
  • One in every 44 men will die of prostate cancer, leading to more than 35,000 deaths in 2024.
  • The risk of prostate cancer diagnosis increases with age. Men aged 65 and older are at the greatest risk.
  • Genetics and family history can play a role in the onset of prostate cancer. For example, men who are of African American ancestry have a higher risk than the average for all races.

A prostate cancer diagnosis can be frightening. However, the good news is that treatment for prostate cancer is effective at achieving remission if you start it early enough.

What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer has recognizable symptoms. The challenges in diagnosing prostate cancer are that symptoms sometimes do not appear until the cancer is well established, and the symptoms can be confused with a non-cancerous enlargement of an enlarged prostate gland, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Loss of bowel control
  • The presence of blood in urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the hips, back, or chest, possibly combined with a sense of numbness or weakness
An infographic listing the symptoms of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer treatments can result in long-term symptoms known as residual conditions. Residual conditions that can be considered compensable disabilities include:

Exposure to Agent Orange and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is particularly relevant to veterans due to its connection with the defoliant chemical commonly known as “Agent Orange.” This herbicide was widely used during the Vietnam War and left many veterans exposed to long-lasting side effects. 

Presumptive Service Connection for Prostate Cancer

The connection between Agent Orange exposure and prostate cancer is strong enough that the VA will presume that prostate cancer has a military service connection if a veteran can show one of the following:

  • Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. This includes service in-country, or on board a shop that was operating on the country’s inland waterways or made shore visits to South Vietnam, and Blue Water Navy personnel.
  • Veterans who served on or near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the Republic of Korea between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971.

If you do not qualify for a presumptive direct service connection, that does not mean that you cannot receive VA disability benefits for a prostate cancer diagnosis. It does mean, however, that you will need to establish the existence of a service connection to the onset of the cancer in the same way that veterans normally prove a service connection.

Military Burn Pit Exposure and Prostate Cancer

As a matter of expediency, the U.S. military has disposed of waste materials, including toxic chemicals, by burning them in large pits. These burn pits were used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have also been used in other locations.

Burn pits emitted large quantities of gasses, some of them toxic.

Presumptive Service Connection for Prostate Cancer

The VA recognizes burn pit exposure as a basis for a presumptive service connection for many kinds of cancers, including prostate cancer, if you meet any of the following conditions.

You served in any of the following locations on or after September 11, 2001, including the airspace over them:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

You served in any of the following locations on of after August 2, 1990, including the airspace over them:

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Arabian Sea
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Persian Gulf
  • Red Sea

Like with Agent Orange exposure, veterans who developed prostate cancer but did not serve in a place that qualifies for a presumptive service connection might still be able to receive prostate cancer disability benefits if they are otherwise able to prove the existence of a service connection.

How Do I Prove a Service Connection to Prostate Cancer?

Those who do not qualify for a presumed service connection need to establish a service connection. You must have a current prostate cancer diagnosis, combined with proof of an event or injury that happened during your service that led to the onset of the cancer. Your treating physician will usually make this connection in a nexus letter that accompanies your disability benefits application.

The VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam for Prostate Cancer

Many times, the VA will require you to undergo a C&P examination as part of your benefits claim application process. This examination is meant to give the VA enough information to assess the validity of your claim and your supporting medical evidence.

In the case of prostate cancer, a C&P exam can also be important in establishing the severity of the cancer and whether you are suffering from any residual effects of it.

It is important to make every effort to make your scheduled appointment. Missing a C&P exam can cause serious problems with your benefits claim and might even lead to a claim denial.

How Do I Apply for VA Disability Benefits for Prostate Cancer?

If you have a presumed service-connected prostate cancer condition or if you must establish a service connection, you apply for VA disability benefits in the same way by using VA Form 21-526EZ.

You can file your application online, by mail, or by applying in person at your regional VA office.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Because prostate cancer often does not show symptoms, prostate cancer screening is important to catch it while it is still readily treatable.

Prostate screenings consist of a physical exam, blood tests and biopsies, and evaluations of medical scans and images.

How is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Several treatment options exist to treat prostate cancer. The type, severity, health, and age will determine which one is best for you.

Commonly used prostate cancer treatments involve therapy-based methods like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and cryotherapy.

In some cases, surgery is also a treatment option.

How Cancer Treatments Can Lead to Residual Disability Ratings

Given the potential seriousness of prostate cancer, it cannot be said of treatments that “The cure is worse than the disease.”

That being said, treatments for active prostate cancer can lead to prostate cancer residuals. Here are some examples of how this can happen:

  • Cryotherapy can lead to impotence and incontinence.
  • Radiation therapy can lead to impotence or incontinence.

How Does VA Rate Prostate Cancer?

Once your service connection is established, the VA will likely approve your disability benefits claim application. After that, the VA assigns you one or more disability ratings. You can receive a disability rating for prostate cancer as a separate disability, or it can be part of a combined VA rating covering multiple disabilities.

Temporary 100 Percent Disability Rating for Active Prostate Cancer

Unlike many other kinds of disability claims, the VA has a special temporary rating for prostate cancer. If your cancer is active (malignant), the VA will assign you a temporary 100 percent disability rating during your cancer treatment and for six months after its completion and your cancer has gone into remission.

After those six months have passed, the VA will re-examine you to see whether the cancer is inactive (benign). If this happens, then the VA will assign you new disability ratings based on each qualifying residual symptom you have.

Residual Symptom Disability Ratings for Prostate Cancer

The following breaks down how the VA rates prostate cancer residual symptom disabilities.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination can lead to the following disability ratings:

  • 10% – Urination every two to three hours, or waking up twice each night to urinate
  • 20% – Urination every one to two hours, or waking up three to four times each night to urinate
  • 40% – Urination at intervals of less than one hour, or waking up five or more times each night to urinate
An info graphic listing the different categories or urination frequency and their respective VA disability ratings.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is also known as a “voiding dysfunction” and has the following specific disability ratings:

  • 20% – You need to wear absorbent materials and only change them once daily
  • 40% – You need to change absorbent materials twice to four times daily
  • 60% – You need to wear an appliance or change absorbent materials more than four times a day
An info graphic listing the Va disability ratings for urinary incontinence.

Atrophied Testes

If both testes are affected, this residual condition can result in a disability residual rating of 0 percent, 10 percent, or 20 percent.

Temporary Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Benefits and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer alone has a maximum disability rating of 60%. But in some cases, by itself or in combination with other disability ratings, prostate cancer residuals can produce a 100 percent disability rating under TDIU.

There are two main ways to qualify for TDIU benefits:

  • You have a single disability rating of 60% or higher for prostate cancer, and your disability keeps you from getting or keeping substantially gainful employment.
  • You have a combined VA disability rating of at least 70 with one underlying individual disability rating of at least 40%, and the combined disabilities keep you from having substantially gainful employment.

The federal poverty level determines what is considered substantially gainful employment. As a general rule of thumb, work that pays you better than a poverty-level wage meets the substantially gainful employment test.

Have You Been Denied VA Disability Benefits for Prostate Cancer?

The VA does not approve every benefits application it receives. This can be due to several factors, including insufficient proof to support a disability rating or an in-house mistake by the VA during processing.

Also, burn pit exposures are a relatively recent addition to the VA’s presumptive service connection for prostate cancer. If, in years past, you applied for prostate cancer VA benefits based on burn pit exposure and were denied, you might be eligible to apply for them now.

How you respond to a VA claims benefit denial depends in part on the nature of the denial and what your preferred option is.

Sometimes, filing a supplemental claim with additional supporting medical evidence or other documentation is all that is needed.

Other times, you may need to make a more formal appeal, up to and including an appeal to a VA court for a hearing before a VA law judge. Although in many situations dealing with the VA is something you can do by yourself, an appeal of a denied claim is a matter that lends itself to having an experienced VA benefits appeal lawyer to help you with.

Do You Need Help With Your Prostate Cancer Disability Claim?

At Stone Rose Law, we have board-certified VA claims lawyers who serve veterans in Arizona and nationwide. Our VA-accredited attorneys provide affordable, high-quality veterans’ appeals legal assistance.

Our veterans lawyers provide highly professional legal representation to military veterans, helping them through the VA process to receive all the veterans’ disability benefits they are entitled to. 

A Stone Rose disability lawyer can help you prepare your prostate cancer disability claim, monitor your claim status, and consult with you before disability examinations—all at no cost to you

For more information about how one of our VA disability lawyers can help you with your VA disability claim or appeal, request a free assistance consultation at (480) 498-8998. Or, if you prefer, you can reach us online to ask a question about veterans’ law or veterans’ disability benefits or to set an