Thyroid Disorders and SSDI

Am I eligible for social security disability benefits for my thyroid disorder?

The thyroid gland — a gland in the neck, produces hormones that regulate weight and metabolism. Thyroid disorders such a hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause a variety of medical conditions.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

If your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone, you may experience the following symptoms: fatigue, depression, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, body pain, increased weight, and swollen legs. Severe cases can also result is cardiovascular and respiratory problems. This condition is treated by taking a thyroid supplement.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid gland can cause muscle weakness, a racing heart, tremors, irritability, and problems sleeping. Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes medications, the intake of radioactive iodine, and possibly surgery.

While chronic thyroid conditions can be managed with medications and most individuals can lead normal lives and continue to work, those who are suffering from a thyroid disorder and are unable to work may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

SSDI and Thyroid Disorders

The Social Security Administration will award disability benefits for medical conditions that are expected to last for a year or result in death. The SSA requires proper medical evidence to be submitted that indicates you are unable to perform any work or meet the requirements of a “compassionate allowance condition.”

While hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are manageable, some thyroid disorders are more likely to result in a disability, such as thyroid cancer and Graves’ disease. To qualify for disability benefits for thyroid cancer, the illness must be one that has spread beyond the area of the lymph nodes. On the other hand, while Graves disease in and of itself may not meet the criteria for SSDI eligibility, the illness can cause other medical conditions, such as a heart arrhythmia, which may qualify an individual for benefits.

What is residual functional capacity?

A thyroid disease that is not severe enough to meet the eligibility requirements for disability benefits may require a determination of an individual’s residual functional capacity, or RFC — the most one can do in a work setting. An RFC may lead to a classification of an individual being able to perform sedentary, light or moderate work. An RFC may also include limitations that prevent one from being fully productive.

Hypothyroidism, for example, can result in depression which can affect an individual’s ability to work on a regular basis. At the same time, this disorder can also make it difficult to concentrate, which can interfere with a person’s ability to follow complex instructions and prevent an individual from performing certain, but not all, jobs.

There are other symptoms of thyroid disorders as well as side effects of medications that may lead to an individual being eligible for disability benefits. Nonetheless, the process for being awarded SSDI can be very complicated. If you have question about whether your thyroid disorder makes you eligible for disability benefits, an attorney with expertise in Social Security procedures can help you explore your options.