Hypothyroidism and Disability Benefits

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Originally published on 16th November 2018
Last updated on 11th April 2021

In the Facebook support group I created for thyroid patients, the question of whether we can claim financial support or government/state benefits crops up fairly often. 

And the responses can get controversial. 

The short answer on whether you could claim financial support is: possibly.

Rachel has Brain Fog

A Danish study from 2014 showed that those with hypothyroidism had an 89% increased risk of receiving disability benefits compared to those without the condition, even though they were on medication for their thyroid condition. It was explained that having the disease was related to difficulties in meeting work demands and daily tasks. The results of this study may come as a surprise to many, as hypothyroidism is often seen as an easy to treat condition, but we patients know this is often not the case. It is also worth keeping in mind that the thyroid medication the included patients were on in the study likely did not include T3 medications such as synthetic T3 or NDT. They were likely to all be on T4-only synthetics such as Synthroid and Levothyroxine. [1]

The Factors 

Depending on the severity of your condition, such as how limiting your case of hypothyroidism is to your day to life, as well as if you have any other physical or mental health conditions or disabilities, then you may be entitled to financial support. However, it does seem difficult and unlikely to receive any for hypothyroidism alone.

This is most likely  due to the general ignorance and lack of good knowledge surrounding how badly hypothyroidism can affect someone’s day to day life, as it is generally seen as an easy condition to treat (though obviously, if it was that easy, there wouldn’t be so many of us still unwell and looking for help!)

Most doctors tend to play down any ongoing concerns and symptoms reported from thyroid patients and as such, getting the correct authority to truly understand how it often can and does affect peoples’ day to day living can be incredibly difficult.

From the answers I have read on the posts asking about disability or benefits for hypothyroidism, the people who have stated they receive financial support also usually have other diagnoses. For example, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis etc. and many of these conditions are often better understood for how limiting they can be on someones day to day life, and so may increase the chances of receiving benefits or financial support.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the circumstances in which a person is defined as “disabled”. It says someone is disabled if they have:

“A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”

And I know from my own personal experience that hypothyroidism has the potential to do just this.

The Grey Area

What makes it quite a controversial topic to be discussed is that I always find the thyroid patients who generally manage quite a ‘normal’ quality of life and have responded well to standard T4 thyroid medication, to be dismissive towards those who do not. As they leave comments like:

I’ve never needed to claim benefits. I’m not disabled. Hypothyroidism isn’t a disability. Pull yourself together!” 

“I’ve worked hard my whole life. Nothing will ever stop my work ethic. People are using their health conditions as an excuse to be lazy.” 

And these are incredibly ignorant. Just because they have the same condition as someone, it doesn’t make their experience the same as everyone else’s. What we need to remember is that hypothyroidism affects us all on a very wide scale. Some people experience mild effects to their life and some experience major effects.

I was once practically bed-bound from the physical impacts of hypothyroidism and required my now-husband to help me up and down the stairs at home. But a few years on and I’m able to live a pretty regular life after making the correct medication and lifestyle changes I needed to get better. So what’s important to remember is that no two people’s experiences are exactly the same.

Hypothyroidism Can be a Disability 

For some people, their hypothyroidism is a disability. It can leave people bed-bound, in excruciating muscle pain, un-explainable fatigue, depressed and more. If you’re a thyroid patient who is lucky enough to find that you actually feel rather well, count yourself very lucky that you don’t experience what so many others do. To imply that because you’re pretty healthy with hypothyroidism, everyone else must be, is incredibly ignorant.

Related Article: Thyroid Patients Explain How Their Thyroid Condition Has Affected Their Work Life

See US info here: Accommodation and Compliance: Thyroid Disorders

If your health condition/s such as thyroid disease affect you on a day to day basis and you require some support, please don’t feel discouraged if someone implies that your own personal experience of thyroid disease doesn’t entitle you to any help. But to be clear,  it is not the thyroid problem itself that entitles you to any financial support, but how the condition affects you day to day living and quality of life.

Get in contact with your own local authority, have an honest and realistic conversation with your doctor and find out if you can receive any financial support.

See my tips on getting the most out of a doctors appointment here.

And if you’re still struggling with your health despite being on mediation and told your test results are ‘fine’, know that you do not have to live this way. To address why you may still be feeling unwell (often despite being on thyroid medication too), please see this article and go through each suggestion, putting your thyroid jigsaw back together.

A study in 2018 showed that T4-only medication Levothyroxine was associated with a lower quality of life in those with Hypothyroidism. [2]

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, but remember to respect other peoples’ experiences too.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

References:

[1] https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/99/9/3129/2537888?login=true

[2] https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/thyroid/news/online/%7Beb193222-2795-4321-8761-607131d2f743%7D/levothyroxine-therapy-associated-with-lower-quality-of-life-in-hypothyroidism?fbclid=IwAR0Dk8tGRAxB6at_Mc7jgDiPyp0YikRuy6ZmG6yS8CMOz3lPEj67zH_g4vY

https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/working-ability/thyroid-gland-disorders

https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/thyroid-gland-disorders-and-social-security-disability

http://www.markvanderpump.co.uk/blog/posts/did-you-know-that-thyroid-problems-can-be-regarded-as-disabilities

http://www.thyroidchange.org/blog/how-can-i-qualify-for-social-security-disability-with-a-thyroid-disorder

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5 thoughts on “Hypothyroidism and Disability Benefits

  1. Thank u so much for this I really thought that the issues I’ve been going through must be due to other stuff I have hypothyroidism and there’s so many days where my brother or my daughter have to literally help me to just sit up in bed until I can take my medicine take some Tylenol try to someway rub my legs because there so weak and they hurt and then when I am finally able to actually get out of the bed I barely have the energy or the Strength to play with my grandson and this literally has me in tears bc he’s 18 months old and I’m only 35 and I can barely give my grandson the attention that I was able to when my baby’s were lil I honestly end up having to just have my daughter bring him back into my room so I can spend time with him with out trying to chase him around he’s a toddler he doesn’t want to just be shut up in a room even tho I tickle him and try to turn on the movies he loves or give him my phone to watch cartoons on YouTube this is really affecting my every day life and I know alot of times it has also to do with me having asthma and copd so I constantly have to have my inhaler right with me but that’s just 10% of what I’m having to go thru at 35 yrs old it blows my mind I never would have thought in a million years that I couldn’t do the normal things that grandparents normally a lot older then me are able to do it breaks my heart it truly does I don’t know if I will be determined disabled I do have a few other disability’s I’m having to deal with but this one is truly the worst I’m definitely not able to work there’s no way but even though I’m sure of that it doesn’t mean SSI will determine the same thing if they don’t I honestly don’t know what I will do I can’t expect to just be taken care of basically the rest of my life im so depressed and sometimes I don’t know if I can truly keep going this life is miserable I wouldn’t wish it on my worst Enemy I’m constantly in pain from the moment I open my eyes till I close them and finally fall asleep I wake up in the middle of the night bc I can’t breathe so my inhaler is with me at all times and I’m also anemic but at the same time I get blood clots so I have to take eliquis which is a blood thinner so that’s very confusing to me bc I’m not able to take iron pills bc they make me sick but they want me on blood thinners so I don’t get blood clots but my dr is telling me if I have another bad period I’m gonna be right back in the hospital having to get another blood transfusion but there telling me to take these blood thinners that make my period soooo much worse than it even used to be so I don’t understand all of that so I don’t take my eliquis while I’m on my period and I’m sure my dr would be upset about that but like I said it’s all so confusing so while I have my period bc of all of the blood loss I’m so weak and during these times I don’t know how I’m able to feel any weaker then I already do bc of the hypothyroidism so it’s all just so confusing and I just got mail yesterday from the Florida department of health social security Determination and they have all these forms that I have to feel out but there so confusing I had an interview already on the phone…. They have all these confusing questions I don’t know how I’m gonna feel it all out on my own I swear sometimes I just want to give up but then I look at my kids face and my grandsons face I want to continue to be with them as much as I can I just don’t no what to do and I don’t know how to keep handling all this on my own

  2. I am in the Army. I’m 32, have 15 years in and my thyroid in recent years has been causing me a lot of issues. The biggest issue being weight gain, and the second biggest is causing extreme fatigue and long recovery time after exercise. As you may expect, we don’t have the luxury of keeping our jobs if we are too fat or out of shape. No matter how much that is not our fault. If you can’t keep up you are expected to do the honorable thing and leave. But compensation and even retirement is not enough to get me by. I don’t even know if I qualify because I am full time National Guard, not on orders. Normally the VA only covers veterans, which I will not be for retiring from the Guard, although I am a veteran and when I got off Active Duty I was in perfect health so that’s not an option.

    I work with many other service members with thyroid problems. One specifically does very well. She works out a ton, she is thin and athletic. She expects everyone else to be. She sees it as just another hurdle that we should all be able to jump, as Soldiers. And I have been for many years but now I am just tired. And no one understands this. Except for those like me that actually do struggle a lot with this illness. I’m no longer fit to serve but this is all I’ve ever done. I don’t even have a degree, how can I support myself and family?

  3. Hi

    Can I ask what dose of Thyroxine you take if any? I’m 33 and was diagnosed at 16. I’m on 300 a day which means my doctors won’t touch any changes, everything has to be done through an Endocrinologist. I saw a haematologist a few years ago who said I have an abnormally high level of anti-thyroid antibodies. From what I can gather, my body is fighting the replacement hormones which is why I’m on such a high dose. A large number of my family members also have hypothyroidism and they were aghast when they heard how high a dose I’m on

    1. hi – I have a friend in america struggling with same problem of her body not reacting to T4 and T3 – may I ask how you got diagnosed – her doctors don’t accept there’s anything wrong with her going by her blood tests. Thankyou, am a hashimotos sufferer myself.

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