There are a variety of thyroid gland disorders, and some can be very debilitating. If you have been left unable to work because of thyroid gland disorders, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you are deemed permanently disabled, you and certain dependents may be eligible to receive benefits.
In order to be eligible for benefits, you have had to work enough during the past to earn enough credits by having paid in the required amount of taxes to the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to receive benefits, your thyroid gland disorder must be severe enough to render you permanently disabled.
The thyroid, a gland shaped much like a bow tie, is under the skin at the front of your neck. It produces hormones required by the body’s cells so they can function normally. These hormones assist children in growth and help produce energy in the body. If it is too active or not active enough, you can experience serious symptoms that impact your normal functioning in life.
Financial Expenses Involved with Treating Thyroid Gland Disorders
There are several different disorders involving the thyroid gland, but the most common are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. According to Cost Helper, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are conditions that are usually covered by health insurance, but involves prescription copays, doctor visit copays and any deductibles or coinsurance.
If a patient does not have health insurance, treatment can range anywhere from $15 to $100 per month, or as high as $1,200 per year. Much of that expense goes toward medications to treat hypothyroidism. Regular physician follow-ups are required for blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels and to see if medication adjustments are required.
Depending on the condition and the its severity, your primary care provider may refer you to an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is a specialist who focuses on thyroid problems and other medical disorders. They can help you come up with an effective treatment plan and the proper medicine dosage for your condition and hormone levels.
The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a Blue Book that lists all of the major body systems and how an individual can qualify for SSDI benefits. There is no specific listing for thyroid disorders in the Blue Book because the majority of patients are able to control their disorder by taking prescription medication. Unfortunately, some patients do suffer severe complications from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, such as depression, anxiety, unintended weight gain or weight loss, strokes, or heart problems.
There are several thyroid related conditions that are listed in the Blue Book. Here are how some of the most common thyroid-related medical complications are addressed and evaluated by the SSA.
- Thyroid cancer is assessed under Listing 13.09, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, Thyroid.
- Unintentional weight loss is assessed under Listing 5.08, under Digestive Systems.
- Thyroid-related Heart Conditions are assessed under Listing 4.00, Cardiovascular System.
- Strokes are assessed under Listing 11.04, under the listing for Central Nervous System Vasular Accidents.
- Under Listing 12.00 are Mood Disorders, which include anxiety, cognitive issues and depression.
If any of these problems meet the guidelines for disability set forth under their listing in the Blue Book, you would be approved for SSDI benefits under the SSA regulations. However, if you don’t meet the guidelines for one specific condition, you may have multiple symptoms from various conditions that combined are the equivalent of a permanent disability.
Meeting Disability Criteria with an RFC
Thyroid gland disorders can cause numerous symptoms that can be documented in detail in a residual functioning capacity (RFC) form completed by your physician. Even if you don’t meet the Blue Book guidelines for disability, you may meet the requirements with the help of an RFC.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include swollen legs, increased or decreased weight, body pain, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and more. Hyperthyroidism can cause nervousness, tremors, irritability, difficulty sleeping and muscle weakness.
The doctor needs to include any limitations in the form. As an example, if you have swollen legs and fatigue, he should note if it limits your ability to stand or sit for long periods of time. If you experience severe pain and must take medications, he should indicate if the medicine causes drowsiness or confusion.
If you experience nervousness or irritability, he should note if that has something to do with your ability to interact with people and your ability to work. If tremors and muscle weakness are symptoms are experience, then he should impact how they prevent you from grasping, lifting and bending.
Combining all these symptoms and side effects and noting how each thing impacts your functioning will play a major role in showing you are indeed disabled and unable to do your regular work or transfer your skills to different kind of work.
Disability Determination Services also consider your age, education background, past work experience and any skills that can be transferred. With a completed RFC, your outcome of your disability claim may be significantly changed. Many people are approved for disability benefits thanks to the completed RFC form from their physician.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case
There are several tests used in diagnosing thyroid gland disorders and determining a treatment plan. As an example, lab work will determine hormonal levels and confirm if the thyroid gland is functioning properly. Although the disability process involves providing all of your medical records to the SSA, an additional medical evaluation may be ordered during the process.
The SSA will pay for the medical evaluation and will schedule the appointment with a physician they employ. They may also order some lab work and inexpensive tests that will help them confirm your diagnosis and if your treatment is effective.
Mental evaluations may also be ordered during the SSDI approval process. If you suffer from a thyroid gland disorder you may experience confusion, depression or anxiety from either the condition itself or from the medication used to treat the condition.
There may be several denials throughout the disability claim process, and eventually, the case may end up before an administrative hearing judge who may approve the claim despite it previously being denied. If you do not already have an advocate or attorney on your side, you may want to consider seeking assistance with process. A Social Security lawyer or advocate can help you build a strong case and potentially increase your chances of winning disability this time around.