There are a variety of thyroid gland disorders than can negatively impact your life, two of which are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid gland disorder, you may qualify for social security disability benefits if your condition is severe enough.
Thyroid Gland Disorders – Conditions & Symptoms
The thyroid gland is a gland of the endocrine system located in the neck that produces the thyroid hormone, mainly responsible for metabolism in the body, and affecting many body systems.
Disorders can occur when the thyroid grows too large or develops cancer, or from the over and underproduction of the thyroid hormone.
The thyroid sometimes enlarges and forms what is known as a goiter. Goiters are intrinsically harmless and don’t require removal unless they restrict breathing and swallowing due to their location in the throat.
Thyroid Gland Disorders and Social Security
You can suffer from a variety of thyroid gland disorders, and many of them can have a major negative impact on your life. If a thyroid disorder has rendered you disabled to work, you could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program to individuals who have worked enough to earn an adequate amount of credits and has paid in a sufficient amount of taxes to the SSA.
While many people have thyroid disorders that are controlled by medicine, there are several people who have thyroid disorders that are much more difficult to manage and that wreak havoc on their daily lives, and render them unable to work.
If you are one of those people, you can apply for disability benefits through the SSA.
If you are approved for SSDI, you may have certain dependents who are eligible to receive benefits as well. To qualify for disability benefits, your thyroid gland disorder has to be severe enough to make you permanently and completely disability.
Benefits are not available for partial disability. The thyroid is a small gland at the front of your neck.
It has the job of producing hormones for your body’s cells to enable them to function normally. These are hormones that help with energy in the body and assist children with growth. If your thyroid gland is not active or overactive, it can impact your ability to function normally.
If You Are Denied Initially
If your initial claim for disability benefits is denied, the first thing to know is that there is no need to panic. The average national approval rate is only 36% and so there is a good chance that you will be denied initially and need to appeal.
The good news is that the approval rate for appeals goes up significantly because people who appeal typically include more information to support their claims, making it easier to be approved later on.
You have 60 days to appeal the SSA’s decision, which means you need to act fast once you receive notice that your claim was denied. There are several stages of the appeals process and you might find success at any of the levels.
The first step is to reapply under a “request for reconsideration.” This is the first step of the process and it essentially means that you apply again and hope for another evaluator to read your claim and arrive at a different decision.
You can either resubmit your initial application or add more information that might have been missing in the first round. Most claims are denied because they either fail to meet the standards or do not include enough information to support the claim.
It is in your best interest to take a very close look at your application and make sure that you have as much information as possible included in the application, including any new information about your condition that might have been found while you were waiting for a decision.
If your request for reconsideration does not yield a favorable result, then you will present your case to an administrative law judge. This is considered the most winnable stage of the appeals process because you have a chance to bring witnesses to speak on your behalf, and you can demonstrate to the judge why you are unable to work because of your condition. The disability hearings have a 62% approval rate.
After the disability hearing level, there is also the Appeals Council or an appeal to a federal court. The Appeals Council has an approval rate of about 13% while a federal appeal has a 40% approval rate.
The appeals process can be difficult to navigate alone, or even with the help of family and friends. You might consider hiring a Social Security disability attorney to help you through the process.
Thyroid Gland Disorders that Qualify
Thyroid gland disorders encompass a number of conditions, all of which have different impacts on your ability to work. The thyroid gland is tied to several systems in the body, including the sympathetic nervous system and metabolism.
Thyroid gland disorders can cause cardiac arrhythmias and other heart issues, weight loss and increased risk of strokes, in addition to changes to mood, increased anxiety and cognitive limitations.
In addition to the above named disorders, a parathyroid condition can impact calcium levels in several areas of the body including bones, blood, nerves and tissue and can lead to conditions such as hypercalcemia, kidney failure, cataracts and hypocalcemia, which can cause tetany and muscle spasms.
How to Better Your Chances of Approval
The number one question that people who apply for Social Security disability benefits as is how to make sure that their application stands the best chance of being approved.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to provide as much information as possible in your claim because the Social Security evaluators are only seeing you on paper. They do not know who you are or how your condition is actually affecting you beyond what is stated in the Blue Book regarding your diagnosis and the information you provide in your claim.
In order to paint an accurate picture of your situation, you need to include all applicable medical information. You need a report from your doctor that details your diagnosis, all of the test results that were used to arrive at your diagnosis, and your treatment plan.
Your treatment plan should outline any medication you are taking along with any side effects you are experiencing as a result of your treatment. In many cases, you could suffer from side effects from your condition and your treatment, so it is important to include all of that information in your application.
It is also important to look at your work history to ensure that you have enough work credits to apply for disability benefits. Generally, you need 40 work credits to apply for disability.
Financial Costs Involved with the Treatment of Thyroid Gland Disorders
An individual can suffer from various thyroid disorders. The most common problems are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. According to Cost Helper, treatment of these conditions are generally covered by health insurance.
Even then there are prescription co-pays, co-pays for doctor visits, and coinsurance and deductibles costs related to hospitalizations, laboratory testing, and any required procedures or treatment plans.
For those who do not have health insurance, the cost of treatment can range from $15 to $100 per month and anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 per year. The majority of the costs go toward the medications to treat the thyroid disorder.
Regular visits to the physician are required to have blood work done to determine the hormone levels and check if adjustments are required for the medication doses.
While many primary physicians treat thyroid disorders, sometimes you may be referred to an endocrinologist who focuses on thyroid issues and several other medical conditions. They will come up with a treatment plan focused on addressing your hormone levels and individual needs.
The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications
While thyroid disorders can be serious, there is no specific listing for them in the SSA medical guide, which is known as the Blue Book.
While many patients are able to function normally and control their thyroid issues with medication, there are those who lives are seriously impacted by the major complications, such as strokes, heart issues, anxiety, depression, or unintended and uncontrolled weight loss or weight gain.
There are several Blue Book listings that involve thyroid disorders. Some of the more common thyroid medical issues and how the SSA addresses them and evaluates them include:
- Listing 13.09, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, Thyroid, addresses thyroid cancer.
- 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 are assessed.
If any of your symptoms meet the Blue Book guidelines for being disabled, you would be approved for SSDI benefits under the SSA regulations.
In the event you don’t meet the guidelines established for one specific condition, you could have enough issues and symptoms from various conditions that would qualify you for SSDI benefits using a medical-vocational allowance.
Meeting Disability Criteria with an RFC
There can be a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by thyroid gland disorders. These symptoms, along with any other medical conditions that you have, should be documented by your physician in a residual functioning capacity (RFC) form.
With the help of an RFC, you may be approved for benefits even if you didn’t meet the Blue Book requirements.
When completing the form, your physician needs to take note of any symptoms and any limitations. As an example, if you have hypothyroidism and suffer from swollen legs, severe pain, and fatigue that render you unable to stand for more than 2 hours without re positioning, that should be clearly indicated.
Or, if you suffer from hyperthyroidism that makes you suffer from irritability, muscle weakness, and tremors to the point that you cannot grasp items or work with others, that should be specified.
Other things in addition to your medical condition will be considered, including your age, past work experience, transferable skills, and education level. A thoroughly completed RFC can have a significant outcome on determining whether or not you are approved for disability benefits.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Individual Case
Thyroid disorders can be diagnosed with a variety of tests, so a treatment plan can be set up. Lab tests will determine hormonal levels and confirm the thyroid gland’s level of functioning.
When you apply for Social Security Disability, the more documentation you provide, the better it is for getting your claim settled in your favor.
The SSA may order an additional medical evaluation at their expense during the process. The exam would be scheduled with the physician they choose, and it will not be used for medical treatment but only for informational purposes.
An evaluation ordered by SSA may include inexpensive testing, such as lab work to check the functioning of the thyroid gland as well.
This evaluation is to assess your symptoms and to determine if they are indeed as severe as you have claimed and if your thyroid functioning is as abnormal as implied in the documentation. The medical evaluation can sometimes help your claim when your information has been confirmed.
Talk to a Social Security Attorney Today
If you are suffering from thyroid gland disorder and are thinking about applying for Social Security benefits, talk with a Social Security attorney or advocate.
Social Security attorneys are only paid on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win. They can help you get all of your paperwork together and make the application process much easier.