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Thyroid Disorders

Social Security Disability for Thyroid Disorders

Do Thyroid Disorders Qualify for Disability Benefits?

If you’re tired in the morning even after a full night’s sleep, and fatigue wears you down all day long, it may be that your thyroid gland is not functioning properly, among other possible medical conditions. There are two main chronic thyroid conditions: hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). While many individuals with thyroid disorders are able to function normally with the help of medication, for others their condition may be so severe that it prevents them from being able to work, and it can lead to much more serious medical issues such as stroke and heart problems.

With hypothyroidism, swollen legs, severe pain, and fatigue may mean you are unable to stand for long periods of time, or keep up with the pace of even a non-strenous job. This may severely limit your capacity for work. Similarly, hyperthyroidism may make it impossible for you to obtain and hold a job, because it can cause irritability, which interferes with your ability to work with others. In addition, muscle weakness and tremors can reach a point where you cannot hold onto tools, writing instruments, or other items.

If your thyroid symptoms cannot be controlled by medication and you are unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. There are two ways you can qualify for benefits. The first is to meet a listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) medical guide, which is known as the Blue Book. While thyroid disorders can be quite severe, the Blue Book does not have a specific listing for them. Instead it addresses them as part of other listings, including these:

  • Listing 5.08, Digestive Systems, addresses unintentional weight loss.
  • Listing 4.00, Cardiovascular System, assesses thyroid-related heart problems.
  • Listing 11.04, Central Nervous System Vascular Accidents covers strokes resulting from thyroid complications
  • Listing 12.00, Mood Disorders such as anxiety, depression, and cognitive issues that can be caused by thyroid problems
  • Listing 13.09, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, Thyroid, addresses thyroid cancer.

If your symptoms meet the Blue Book guidelines for being disabled, you will be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

However, if your symptoms don’t exactly match the guidelines established by the Blue Book (and only a very few meet the standards), there is a second analysis. The SSA may find that you are unable to work because your functional capacity—what work activities you are able to do on a regular and continuing basis—is so severely restricted by the symptoms of your condition that you are unable to sustain any work on a consistent and reliable basis. The SSA will consider other factors in addition to your medical condition, including your age, education level, skills, and past work experience.
Your thyroid disorder symptoms, along with any other medical conditions that you may have, need to be documented by your physician. It is important to explain your symptoms to your doctor at each visit, as well as how they affect your daily life. Social Security will decide your claim on the basis of your medical records. Think about it this way: if a symptom is not in your medical records, SSA can presume it doesn’t exist!

There are several SSA-accepted medical tests that can also support your case. These include:

  • Biopsy
  • Deep tendon reflexes
  • Electromyography
  • Exophthalmometry
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Thyroid antibodies
  • Thyroid scan
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone
  • Thyroid ultrasound
  • Thyroid uptake
  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone test
  • Thyroxine
  • Thyroxine binding globulin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • T3 uptake
  • Water loading test

Bear in mind, the results from these tests will not win your case by themselves, but they will go a long way towards to proving your disability, and helping you get the Social Security disability benefits you need.

Not unlike the disorders themselves, getting benefits for thyroid issues can be complicated. If you are suffering from a thyroid gland disorder and are thinking about applying for Social Security benefits, talk with us at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation. If you agree to have us represent you, we will be with you every step of the way to file the proper paperwork by the required deadlines and fight for your rights. We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get paid if you win, and the amount of our fees is set by Social Security regulations.