Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:
Originally published on 16th November 2018 Last updated on 14th January 2020
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.
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.
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. 
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.
The online thyroid course ‘Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue‘, which walks you through how to overcome thyroid fatigue and flare up days with a personalised approach.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a board member for The American College of Thyroidology and The WEGO Health Patient Leader Advisory Board. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and many more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. She has authored two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.