Thyroid disorders are the result of an abnormally functioning thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, which is part of the endocrine system, regulates hormones in the body; when the thyroid functions abnormally, hormone levels become unbalanced. That imbalance can be too high (hyperthyroidism) or too low (hypothyroidism). Yet thyroid disorders and SSD benefits do not go hand in hand.
Diagnosing thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated because their symptoms often seem benign or mimic other illnesses. Hyperthyroidism – when the body produces too much hormones – can result in any of the following:
- Increased bowel movements;
- Weight loss;
- Vision problems;
- Light menstruation, and;
- Anxiety or nervousness
Hypothyroidism – when the body produces too little of the hormone – has, in almost all cases, the opposite effect, and can cause:
- Weight gain;
- Dry skin and hair;
- Heavy menstruation;
- Fatigue, and;
- Intolerance to cold
Though people may not initially recognize that their symptoms are indicative of a thyroid disorder, once identified, most can successfully manage their symptoms with a combination of medication, dietary changes, regular exercise and adequate sleep. For these people, the disorder does not significantly impact their ability to engage in substantial gainful activity, and they would therefore be ineligible to receive SSD benefits.
Thyroid disorders can, however, negatively impact other body systems. For example, hormone imbalances can wreak havoc on a person’s metabolism, causing them to struggle with weight loss or weight gain. Thyroid issues may also increase a person’s blood pressure or heart rate, leading to arrhythmia or other cardiac issues.
Evaluating thyroid disorder as a disability
Because thyroid disorders can so often be managed, the Social Security Administration’s disability blue book does not actually include any criteria for evaluating a thyroid disorder. Instead, thyroid disorders are evaluated under the affected body system(s). For example, if you experience arrhythmia as a result of the thyroid disorder, the SSA would evaluate your impairment under Section 4, which deals with the cardiovascular system. If the thyroid disorder caused a stroke, the SSA would evaluate your impairment under section 11, which deals with neurological conditions. Weight loss caused by the thyroid disorder would be evaluated as a disorder of the digestive system, found under Section 5.
Therefore, when applying for SSD benefits based on a thyroid disorder it is important that you provide medical evidence documenting both the disorder and the other body system or systems affected by the abnormal thyroid.
For the thyroid disorder, you should provide evidence that supports your diagnosis, such as lab results or other testing your doctor performed, as well as information regarding any medications and/or treatments you have received, or are currently receiving, to treat the disorder, along with the response to those treatments.
The documentation required to support thyroid-related issues will depend on the body system affected, and you should consult the appropriate listing to determine the criteria the SSA will use to evaluate your condition. Generally, you will need to provide the following:
- Medical notes, which outline signs and symptoms of the disease or medical impairment, including a statement of diagnosis;
- Results of laboratory or other diagnostic testing, such as blood work, MRIs, X-rays, CT scans and other diagnostic tests;
- Notes regarding treatment and the response, positive or negative, and;
- Statements and/or opinions from your treating physician regarding the impact your medical condition will have on your ability to work.
For more information on thyroid disorders, including treatment options and support groups, the American Thyroid Association provides information on a number of different thyroid disorders, as well as links to locating specialists and ongoing clinical trials.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Benefits and are in need of legal counsel, consider the Law Office of Neil H. Good. Contact us online for a free case evaluation, or call #(847) 577-4476.