Graves’ Disease and Social Security Disability

As the most common cause of hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease is a prevalent endocrine disorder that is often successfully managed by medications and other treatment methods. Some people with this autoimmune-driven disorder are unable to control their symptoms though, and some also experience debilitating and disfiguring eye issues.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not generally consider Graves’ disease to be a severe disability, because most people respond well to treatment. Most are also able to continue working even with symptoms like sleep disruption, fatigue, skin thickening, and irregular heartbeats.

Benefits are available to individuals with pronounced and uncontrolled symptoms. People that do qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) with Graves’ disease usually experience complications like depression, anxiety, hand tremors, or ocular protrusion and vision issues.

Medically Qualifying with Graves’ Disease

When evaluated disability applications, the SSA references the Blue Book, which is an extensive manual of disabling conditions and medical evidence requirements for each. Graves’ disease is not listed, but there are other conditions the SSA may be able to match your medical records to.

If your illness is the “medical equivalent” of another listed condition, you’ll be found eligible for benefits. A few of the listings that may apply in your case include:

  • Sections 2.01, 2.02, or 2.03 – for vision issues
  • Section 4.05 – for irregular heartbeat symptoms
  • Section 5.00 – for significant, unintentional weight loss
  • Sections 8.02 or 8.05 – for skin symptoms
  • Sections 12.04 or 12.06 – for depression and anxiety symptoms

Before applying for benefits, you may wish to seek assistance and guidance from your treating physician. He or she can help interpret the Blue Book listings and determine if your medical records support your claim.

If necessary, your doctor can:

  • order additional tests
  • write up a statement about your specific symptoms and complications

It’s important to understand that many people that qualify for disability benefits with Graves’ disease don’t meet or match any listing in the Blue Book. Instead, they qualify after the SSA reviews their “residual functional capacity” (RFC). During this process, the SSA looks at:

  • all your medical records
  • your employment history and typical job functions
  • your age and education level as they relate to employment options
  • statements from your treating physician(s) regarding your medical history, symptoms, limitations, treatments, and prognosis
  • RFC report forms from you and your doctor, detailing how your symptoms affect your everyday abilities

If your symptoms are so severe that you’re unable to maintain gainful employment, then you will be approved for benefits, even without meeting or matching a listing.

Getting Help with Your Graves’ Disease Claim

You can apply for benefits in person, though you’ll need to schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213. You can also apply online at any time. Either way, you may wish to consider seeking assistance from a Social Security attorney or advocate, especially since there is no Blue Book listing for Graves’ disease.

As many who have this thyroid disorder are able to continue working, you will likely have an uphill battle ahead in trying to prove you’re disabled. An attorney or advocate can be of help from the start. They can assist you in documenting your symptoms and the manner in which they limit your everyday abilities. They can help you fill out the application and respond to any inquiries for further information you receive from the SSA.

If you are initially denied benefits, which is probably going to be the case, then a Social Security advocate or lawyer can help you appeal the decision as well. They can assist in preparations for the appeal hearing and can represent you before the administrative law judge that presides at the appeal hearing.

Additional Resources