Can Thyroid Disease Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of a Thyroid Disease?
Author: Attorney Greg Reed
Approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck that regulates metabolism and important body functions, including breathing, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, cholesterol levels and body temperature.
If you are suffering from the effects of a Thyroid Disease you may qualify for disability benefits.
Can I Qualify For SSDI With A Thyroid Disorder?
As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid produces two main hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
The most common thyroid disorders occur when too much or too little T3 and T4 are released. When T3 and T4 are too low, a condition called hypothyroidism develops; your heart rate may be slower than normal and you might gain weight. Other symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Coarse hair and skin
- Muscle aches, weakness or tenderness
- Thinning hair
Hypothyroidism can be the result of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that attacks thyroid tissue.
The tissue eventually dies and stops producing hormones. Other causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Removal of the thyroid gland, either surgically or chemically destroyed.
- Exposure to excessive amounts of iodine used in cold and sinus medications, the heart medicine amiodarone, and certain dyes that are given before x-rays.
- Other medications, particularly lithium.
In contrast, hyperthyroidism occurs when too much T3 and T4 are released.
You may have a rapid heart rate and experience weight loss or other symptoms, including:
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Increased hunger
- Tremors in the hands and fingers
- Nervousness, anxiety, irritability
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Thinning skin
- Fine, brittle hair
If you are suffering from a Thyroid Disease and have been denied disability don’t give up, almost 70% are denied initially! Just call 512-454-4000 for a free, no obligation consultation to learn what your options are. Have some questions? just give us a call, we love to help folks just like you!
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease, an autoimmune disease that causes the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:
- Toxic adenomas – nodules in the thyroid gland that secrete thyroid hormones and upset the body’s chemical balance.
- Pituitary gland malfunction.
- Inflammation of the thyroid that causes the thyroid to secrete excess hormones. This is a temporary form of hyperthyroidism lasting weeks or months.
Complications can develop from either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, such as heart problems, peripheral neuropathy, infertility, or birth defects.
If left untreated for long periods, hypothyroidism can bring a myxedema coma, a rare but potentially fatal event. It should also be noted that thyroid cancer is rare and occurs only in about 5% of thyroid modules.
What do I need to qualify for Social Security Disability Income?
While thyroid disorders can usually be treated with hormones and other medications so there is little, if any, impact on a person’s daily life, some complications can prevent a person from working full-time.
If you struggle to control your condition and are unable to work full-time, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security’s Blue Book lists impairments that Social Security considers disabling and that qualify for disability benefits, providing an applicant meets the requirements stated in the listing.
Thyroid disease is not listed as a specific impairment. Instead, Social Security has included thyroid gland disorders in Section 9.00 Endocrine Disorders. Social Security doesn’t evaluate thyroid disease based on hormonal imbalances they cause, but evaluates complications from thyroid disease under the listing related to the particular body system affected by thyroid hormonal imbalance:
- Thyroid-related changes in blood pressure and heart rate that cause arrhythmias or other cardiac dysfunction are assessed under Section 4.00 for disorders of the cardiovascular system;
- Thyroid-related weight loss is evaluated under Section 5.00 for disorders of the digestive system.
- Hypertensive cerebrovascular accidents (strokes) are evaluated under Section 11.00 for disorders of the neurological system.
- Cognitive limitations, mood disorders and anxiety are evaluated under Section 12.00 for mental disorders.
Thyroid cancer has its own listing under Section 13.09.
To qualify under this listing, you must show that thyroid cancer has spread other parts of your body. If you have anaplastic carcinoma, a rare but aggressive thyroid cancer, you can meet this listing and be awarded disability benefits quickly under Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances program.
For any thyroid disorder, including thyroid cancer, you will need to submit as much medical evidence as possible to support your claim and document the severity of your thyroid disorder, including:
- Physical exam results
- Your complete medical history
- Blood tests and other laboratory test results
- Medications you are taking and side effects
- Treatments you have received and your responses
What if my symptoms don’t match Social Security’s requirements?
If your thyroid disorder doesn’t match Social Security’s listing requirements, you may still be eligible for disability benefits if you can show that your physical and mental limitations are so severe, you cannot do your old job or any other job.
Your treatment history and doctors’ opinions in this case are very important in getting approved for disability benefits. You should ask your doctor for a statement detailing your limitations and restrictions. For example:
- How much you can lift or carry.
- How long you can walk or stand.
- How often you can use your hands to type.
- What type of working environment you need; are you sensitive to temperature?
- How well you can work with others.
- Do you need more time to complete tasks?
Social Security uses your medical records and doctor’s opinion to conduct a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment to determine if you can perform your last job or any job, taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.
For example, let’s say Social Security finds that your old job is too strenuous and you can only do desk work, but you’ve never done desk work. Social Security won’t expect you to return to your old job, and depending on your age and job experience, Social Security might not expect you to learn a new job. Social Security follows a set of medical-vocational grid rules to determine when the agency expects an applicant to learn a new job. Disability applicants who are older than 50 or 55 will often fall under a grid rule, which means they don’t have to learn a new job. If you can’t go back to your old job and you don’t have to learn a new one, Social Security will likely grant you disability benefits.
Additionally, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment, such as high blood pressure or asthma.
By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book, but if you have more than one medical condition, Social Security must consider how those combined health issues limit your ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks.
What are the basic financial requirements for SSDI?
Even if you meet all the medical criteria for a listed impairment, you won’t be approved for SSDI if you don’t meet the basic financial requirements.
In addition to having a disability that has lasted, or is expected to last 12 months, you must also have worked in a job where you paid Social Security taxes long enough and recently enough, and you must not earn more than Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is $1,4700 per month in 2023 for nonblind applicants and $2,460 per month for blind applicants.
What if I don’t qualify for SSDI?
If you don’t have enough work credits or earn too much income, you may be eligible for disability benefits through another Social Security program, like Social Security Income (SSI,) or from long-term disability insurance through your employer or a privately purchased policy.
SSI is a program that pays monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. It is based on income, not work credits, and is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury.
I have long-term disability insurance – should I file a claim?
Long-term disability insurance (LTD) is coverage to protect your income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury and is purchased as part of a group employment plan or privately through an insurance company.
Policies pay between 50-60% of your salary and benefits continue until you return to work or for the number of years stated in the policy. If you have an LTD policy, remember your coverage is good only as long as you are employed, so it is important not to quit your job before you file a claim. Be sure to check the policy’s definition of “disabled” as each policy will state the definition of “disabled” which is in use. Note that long-term disability insurance companies can require a claimant to also apply for SSDI.
How do I file for Social Security Disability benefits?
You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security Administration office.
Do not be discouraged if your application is denied – most initial applications are. You will have the opportunity to appeal. There are four steps to the appeal process:
- File a Request for Reconsideration with the Social Security Administration to completely review the case.
- If you don’t agree with SSA’s response to your Request for Reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). ALJs are attorneys who work for the Social Security who review SSDI cases and either uphold or overturn decisions to deny SSDI benefits. If you are not represented by an attorney, you should obtain legal counsel at this critical point to raise your chance for success.
- If an ALJ does not grant your claim, you can request that the Appeals Council review your case.
- Federal Court review. The final step in the appeal process is filing suit in U.S. District Court.
Do I need a disability attorney?
If you have a thyroid disorder, and it has affected your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
You should know, however, that applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a long process and can take months to years. If you receive a denial, your chances of approval are increased significantly if you have legal representation. At the request for reconsideration and hearing levels, an attorney can collect and submit relevant medical evidence, obtain doctors’ opinions, draft a brief to the ALJ, and prepare you for questioning by the judge. An attorney can also elicit helpful testimony from you and cross-examine vocational and medical experts, demonstrating your inability to work. At the Appeals Council and federal court level, a lawyer can present legal arguments to show your case was wrongfully denied. Fees charged by disability attorneys are regulated by federal law and are usually 25% of disability backpay you are owed. There are no out-of-pocket costs, and if you don’t win your case, you won’t be charged anything.
The attorneys at Bemis, Roach & Reed have wide experience in representing clients at all levels of the Social Security Disability process and in long-term disability insurance cases.
At The Texas Disability law firm Bemis Roach & Reed, our attorneys are committed to helping injured or disabled clients receive the benefits they deserve. Mr. Roach is AV Preeminent and SuperLawyers rated and has become a recognized leader in the field of Long Term Disability law. Mr Bemis focuses his practice on Social Security disability while Mr Reed handles both LTD and SSDI claims. Both are AV Preeminent and SuperLawyers rated and all our attorneys have been successfully helping people fight for their rights against big insurance companies and the government since 1993. If you have applied for benefits and been denied call 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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