Thyroid disease, specifically hypothyroidism, is a common occurrence and can be accompanied by multiple debilitating symptoms. In some cases, symptoms can be so severe that patients may be unable to accomplish their daily tasks or fulfill their duties at work – if you’re still working, check out our tips for working with hypothyroidism.
Many of those suffering from severe thyroid symptoms may be able to get support by filing for disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA). If your thyroid condition makes it difficult or impossible to complete a reasonable workload, you may qualify for disability benefits. To receive benefits you must be familiar with hypothyroidism, seek out available support, and effectively navigate the application process which can be daunting. This is why we’ve explained the process, criteria for receiving benefits, and more below!
What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid is responsible for producing many different hormones that regulate important bodily functions ranging from metabolic activity to cognitive function. The thyroid also regulates essential organs including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. There are multiple conditions that can affect the thyroid and by extension the rest of the body. One of the most common being hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when there is an inadequate amount of thyroid hormone. Some of the leading causes of hypothyroidism are iodine deficiency, overly aggressive treatment of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), and autoimmune disease in the form of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. There are however many other conditions and lifestyle factors that can negatively influence thyroid function resulting in the development of hypothyroidism.
The Debilitating Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Because of its notable influence on a wide range of systems and functions, an underactive thyroid can trigger many different symptoms. Several common symptoms accompany hypothyroidism including weight gain, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, fatigue, depression, immune issues, migraines, muscle pain and weakness, osteoporosis, and others. Severe cases of hypothyroidism may cause one to experience excruciating muscle pain, unending fatigue, immobility, recurrent or crippling migraines, and depression – get the full list of hypothyroid symptoms here. Thyroid patients suffering from severe symptoms such as these may be able to acquire aid in the form of Social Security disability benefits.
The Equality Act of 2010 provides a brief definition of what qualifies a person as disabled. An individual is considered disabled if they have “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.” Because symptoms of thyroid disease occur at varying frequencies and severity many thyroid patients may not qualify to receive disability benefits. However, if a patient experiences physical and/or mental disruption that impedes their ability to engage in reasonable and gainful employment they should certainly consider applying for government support through the SSA.
Finding Disability Coverage for Hypothyroidism
Because hypothyroidism affects each patient differently, it is often the case that there is not a one-size-fits all disability benefit. Therefore, regulations and benefits set by the SSA may or may not be easily recognizable as suitable for hypothyroid patients.
The SSA provides disability benefits for those suffering from a wide range of conditions. The conditions that qualify for assistance are found within the Blue Book. Currently, there is no specific designation for hypothyroidism. However, that does not mean hypothyroid patients cannot apply.
The Application Process
The application process should begin by acquiring your medical records and attempting to match your condition or symptoms to a listing already in the Blue Book. Even though the Blue Book does not have a category for general hypothyroidism the debilitating symptoms it causes may be covered. For example, thyroid dysfunction can disrupt heart health, which can make certain work environments unsafe for the individual. In such a situation, your application should include cardiac issues caused by thyroid dysfunction rather than general hypothyroidism.
The next step is evaluating your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), or how much the condition inhibits your ability to work or maintain gainful employment. Medical record review and RFC are typically conducted by an SSA representative. However, if possible, enlist the assistance of a doctor who has been working with you for an extended period of time. The familiarity with your case and insight they provide can help determine if your thyroid condition qualifies for disability benefits.
In addition to acquiring medical records and assessing RFC, you will need to provide additional information including: identifying documentation such as SSN and proof of residency, work history, insurance information, proof of citizenship etc. A complete list of required information can be found here.
Criteria for Receiving Benefits
Each application is reviewed to see if it fulfills a large number of criteria including the following:
- Is there medical evidence showing that you are unable to perform reasonable or gainful activity due to your condition?
- Is your condition severe enough that you have been unable to engage in substantial gainful activity for 12 months or more?
- Did you provide a medical history recording the presence of hypothyroidism and its debilitating effects? This may include:
Notes on physical exams
Imaging exam reports
Lab work and/or blood tests
Other tests regarding thyroid function including but not limited to cardiac function, psychological assessments etc.
- Does your vocational or work history document an inability to complete required tasks because of your condition?
- Have you worked enough and paid taxes into the Social Security Administration to acquire adequate credits?
A complete list of the criteria required to win disability benefits can be found here.
Get the Support You Need for Your Debilitating Hypothyroidism
The application process for disability can be overwhelming. As such, many applicants enlist the assistance of a Social Security lawyer to review their claims. Because thyroid disorders are not as widely recognized or easily classified, it can be of great benefit to get the assistance of someone who is familiar with the system and the many factors involved. When you are satisfied that you have collected the requisite information you can apply for benefits online here or in person. Online applications can be filled out at the SSA website at any time whereas a physical application will require an appointment which can be arranged by calling 1-800-772-1213. If you are suffering from debilitating hypothyroidism or thyroid-related disease seek out support in the form of disability benefits.
1. Allsup Staff. “SSDI and Thyroid Disease.” TrueHelp – A Division of Allsup.
2. DBC Staff. “Social Security Benefits for Thyroid Gland Disorders.” Disability Benefits Center.
3. Disability Secrets Staff. “Can I Get Disability for Hypothyroidism?” Disability Secrets.
4. DBH Staff. “Can I Continue Working with Thyroid Gland Disorders?” Disability Benefits Help.
5. SSDRC Staff. “Facts about Hypothyroidism and Filing for Disability.” SSDRC.