If you’re wondering if you can receive disability benefits due to being diagnosed with Graves disease, it’s important to remember that as with any medical condition, the severity of your condition and how it impacts your functional ability will determine eligibility for disability benefits. Having a diagnosis alone will never be enough for you to receive disability benefits. That diagnosis must be accompanied by some type of symptom or limitation for disability eligibility.
A diagnosis of Graves disease could be very minor with no symptoms, in which case you will more than likely not be able to get disability benefits. If your symptoms are severe, however, then disability is a strong likelihood.
What is Graves Disease?
Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. Your thyroid gland produces excess of the thyroid hormone. Excess levels of the thyroid hormone will speed up the body’s metabolism. While in theory this sounds great, as with most things too much can have a deleterious effect. With Graves disease, speeding up the metabolism will trigger a range of symptoms including:
- anxiety, irritability, hand tremors, heat sensitivity, and weight loss. These symptoms can vary widely depending upon the severity of the condition along with how long the hormone levels are high before treatment starts.
- In the more severe cases, excessive thyroid hormone can affect the brain causing severe anxiousness, nervousness or irritability.
- You may also experience issues with your vision including blurry vision, inflammation, and excessive tearing.
- You may also experience musculoskeletal problems leading to muscle pain or myopathy. If left untreated, this condition may ultimately lead to heart problems and weak and brittle bones. Receiving treatment to control your thyroid production is key to controlling your symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your medical provider will confirm a diagnosis of Graves disease by using a combination of your history along with performing a radioactive iodine uptake test. This test will show whether large quantities of iodine are collecting in the thyroid. The thyroid gland needs iodine to make the thyroid hormones. So if the gland is absorbing large amounts of iodine, it is likely producing too much of the hormone.
Graves disease is most common in women in their mid 30’s and 40’s, with it often running in families. Smoking also significantly increases your risk of Graves disease.
Recommended treatment for this condition includes radioactive iodine treatments and antithyroid drugs which help to slow down the production of the thyroid hormone. In some cases, surgical intervention is recommended to remove the thyroid gland altogether.
Graves Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits
As mentioned previously, your disability eligibility will be wholly dependent upon the severity of your symptoms. The social security administration will review your claim based upon those symptoms and how they limit you. If your symptoms of Graves disease are so severe that they are affecting your ability to work, your condition may qualify you for social security disability benefits.
Social security disability is a government-mandated insurance program. It is a type of safety net imposed by the federal government for all those who are working and paying taxes on their working income. If you do not pay taxes on your income, you will not be eligible for the disability insurance program, with a few exceptions including spousal or disabled adult child benefits. If you have worked and paid taxes into the social security system for the past five out of ten years, you are likely covered under this federal insurance program.
To find out if you have disability coverage, you may call your local social security office or you can simply call us at (561) 623-3681 to get a general idea of your disability coverage.
The Application Process
If you have disability insurance through the federal government and you are unable to work due to symptoms of Graves disease, applying for assistance from the social security disability insurance program is a good idea. When applying for disability benefits, social security will review your claim for both technical and non-technical merits.
- To meet the technical qualifications of the disability program you must have disability insurance coverage, as discussed above. This is a very concrete issue, either you have the insurance coverage or you do not.
- The non-technical requirements part of the program is when your medical conditions and symptoms come into question. To determine if you are disabled under the non-technical aspect of the program, social security will use a five-step sequential evaluation process.
- The first step in the process is reviewing your current income. If you are not working you will proceed to step 2 of the process. If you are working part-time, social security will review the amount you are earning in gross per month. If your gross earnings exceed what is termed substantial gainful activity, you will be disqualified from receiving disability benefits. If your gross monthly earnings are less than substantial gainful activity then you will proceed to step 2 of the analysis.
- Step 2 of the sequential evaluation considers whether you are suffering from a severe medical condition posing more than a minimal impact upon your ability to work. The threshold for this step is quite low, with the benefit of the doubt going to the claimant. As long as your conditions impact your ability to work in some way, you will likely proceed past step 2.
- Step 3 considers whether your condition meets or equals one of social security’s listed conditions. Graves disease is not one of social security’s listed conditions. Because of that you will proceed on to step 4 in the analysis.
- Before considering step 4, social security will determine your residual functional capacity. Your residual functional capacity, or RFC, is the most you are functionally able to do. It is not the least or the average, but the most you are capable of. Once social security determines your RFC, they will then consider step 4 which looks at whether you are capable of performing the work you have done in the past fifteen years in spite of your limitations.
- If your RFC prevents you from performing your past work, then at Step 5 social security will consider whether there is other work in which you could perform in the national economy. If it is determined your RFC prevents you from performing any type of work, you will then be determined disabled under the non-mechanical requirements.
Get a Free Consultation From the Experienced Attorneys at LaBovick Law Group
Proving you are disabled from Graves disease requires severe symptoms impacting your ability to work. If you believe your condition is severe, applying for disability benefits may be the right decision for you. At the LaBovick Law Group, we provide free consultations with no upfront costs for representation. Call us today for help with your disability claim.