Hypothyroidism and Disability Benefits

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In the Facebook support group that 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/s, such as how limiting your case of hypothyroidism is on your day to life, as well as if you have any other physical or mental health conditions or disabilities, then this will go towards deciding in your personal case. But yes, it is possible to claim benefits. In my experience though, it seems 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 on going 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/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 better understood for how limiting they can be on someones day to day life, and so may increase the chances of receiving benefits/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.

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 abilities and some experience major ones.

I was once practically bed-bound from the physical impacts of the condition and required my now husband to get me up and down the stairs. 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 peoples experiences are exactly the same.

For some people, their hypothyroidism is a disability. It can leave people bed-bound, in excruciating muscle pain, un-explainably fatigued, 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 when the disease has devastated their life. 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. But to be clear,  it is not the thyroid problems themselves that entitle you to the support, but how the condition affects you day to day.

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

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.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but also read further on the links below. 

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

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites and has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and also contributed the foreword to Emily Kyle’s The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook.

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