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Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland.  The reality for many with Hashimoto’s disease is that it is not usually discovered until it has progressed to the advanced stages—taking an average of ten years—and only after considerable damage has been done to the thyroid gland.

The Mayo Clinic reports on its website that “the thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.” Hashimoto’s disease (named for the Japanese doctor who first described the disease in 1912) typically leads to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood (hypothyroidism). The signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease are mainly those of an underactive thyroid gland. The Mayo Clinic says this can include:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Depression
  • Memory lapses

Hashimoto’s disease can occur at any age, but most commonly it crops up during middle age. Women are twice as likely to get the disease as men.

If you suffer from Hashimoto’s disease, does that mean you qualify for Social Security disability benefits? The critical principle to keep in mind is that Social Security does not generally grant benefits based on simply having a condition.  Instead, it will approve or deny your benefits depending on the extent to which a condition prevents you from being able to sustain competitive work. Hashimoto’s disease can be controlled with thyroid hormone medication, so many patients who take this kind of medication can work without interference from the disease. However, in cases where the disease cannot be controlled by medications, it can lead to heart problems, stroke, excessive weight gain, and, in some situations, severe depression—conditions which may meet the requirements for disability benefits.

Whether you qualify for disability benefits will depend almost entirely on the information in your medical records. This includes lab results, imaging reports (MRIs, CT scans, or x-rays) and statements and treatment notes from your physician. It is important to note that it is not enough for your doctor to simply state that you are disabled due to Hashimoto’s disease. To satisfy Social Security’s requirements, your doctor must list how and to what extent your disease limits your ability to function in a work environment. In many disability claims, the outcome may also be influenced by the results of an examination by an independent physician retained and paid for by the Social Security Administration.

Winning disability benefits for Hashimoto’s disease can be difficult, but we have won many such cases. If you are unable to work due to Hashimoto’s disease or any other medical condition, please contact our office for a free evaluation of your Social Security disability case.