Thyroid disorders are very common and most who suffer from them are able to live a normal life and continue working without any major issues. There are some thyroid conditions, including those that are considered hypothyroidism, which can be severely debilitating and can potentially qualify you for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Qualifying Medically for SSD Benefits
The SSA maintains a listing of potentially disabling conditions. That listing is collectively known as the Blue Book. There is however no listing for thyroid disorders in the Blue Book and therefore no way to medically meet a listed condition. This does not mean that you cannot be approved for benefits with hypothyroidism. It simply means the SSA will need to evaluate your application for benefits in another way:
- By comparing your medical records to another listing to see if you medically “match” another disability
- By evaluating your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine if you are so severely limited by your hypothyroidism and complications that you are unable to maintain gainful employment.
Hypothyroidism can cause a number of very serious complications, including heart and other cardiovascular conditions, depression, anxiety, and pronounced weight loss or gain, among others. If you suffer from cardiac or cardiovascular complications from your hypothyroidism, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) under one of the following listings:
- Section 4.00 – Cardiovascular
- Section 11.04 – Stroke
It is also important to understand that the SSA will compare your medical records to a number of different listings, if your complications do not all align with a single listed impairment in the Blue Book. They may consult any or all of the following, dependent upon the specifics of your hypothyroidism:
- Section 1.00Q – for severe weight gain with musculoskeletal complications
- Section 5.08 – for severe weight loss
- Section 12.00 – Mood disorders
- Section 13.09 – Thyroid cancer or benign but invasive thyroid tumors
If the SSA is unable to match your symptoms and complications to any single or group of listings, then they will evaluate your RFC to determine if your daily abilities are so severely impaired that you are unable to work as a result.
Whether you match a listing or must have your RFC evaluated, you must provide the SSA with extensive medical records to document the presence of your hypothyroidism and its debilitating effects, including:
- Physical exam notes, documenting the features of the disease, including any progression in symptoms and complications
- Imaging exam reports, which may include ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, or x-rays
- Lab work, supporting the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction
- Other diagnostic results, reporting complications of hypothyroidism, which may include cardiac function evaluations, psychological assessments, biopsies, or post operative notes
Financially Qualifying for Benefits
In addition to medically qualifying for benefits, you must also meet the financial eligibility rules established by the SSA. There are two disability programs for which you may be eligible with hypothyroidism:
- For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must be unable to hold a job in which you can earn a gainful living, which the SSA considers $1,070 per month for the year 2014. You must additionally have sufficient work credits accumulated from your previous employment. Learn more about work credits here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/work-credits
- For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, there are no work credits required, but you must have very limited income and other financial resources. Learn more about the SSI financial threshold limits here: http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/
Applying for Benefits
Whether you are applying for SSDI, SSI, or both, you can complete your application for benefits online or in person. Online applications can be completed at any time, via the SSA’s website, here: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm. In person application however require an appointment, which can be made by calling 1-800-772-1213.
Regardless of how you file your application, you should be prepared to wait several months for a decision on your claim. Even then, your application may be denied. If you do receive a denial notice, ensure you request an appeal within 60 days of the date on that notice in order to continue trying for Social Security Disability benefits for your hypothyroidism.
Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help