What Endocrine Disorders Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Overview of the Endocrine System
If you develop a disorder within your endocrine system, the impact on your ability to work, or even simply function independently, can be severely compromised. This is because the endocrine system regulates various functions in our body. The endocrine system is comprised of important glands – including the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland and pancreas – that directly influence our growth, metabolic health, blood sugar levels, etc. As a result, when someone develops an endocrine disorder, it can hinder their ability to function and perform important tasks or engage in work activities.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an endocrine disorder that has impacted your ability to work, it may make sense to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Eligibility for Disability Benefits with an Endocrine Disorder
It is important to understand that being diagnosed with an endocrine disorder is not enough to qualify for disability benefits. In fact, to have a viable claim for disability benefits, an applicant would need to (i) have a diagnosed endocrine system disorder, (ii) a diagnosed related medical disorder, and (iii) proof that you have not been able to maintain employment for at least one year.
How a Disability Benefits Application Based on an Endocrine Disorder is Reviewed
When someone applies for disability benefits, a reviewer with SSA will likely turn to the agency’s Listing of Impairments (commonly referred to as the “Blue Book”). The SSA’s Blue Book details various medical conditions that are generally recognized as sufficiently disabling to warrant the approval of benefits. Specifically, Section 9.00 of the Blue Book is focused on detailing the types of endocrine disorders that may be eligible for disability benefits.
Here is an overview of the types of endocrine disorders, and accompanying disorders, that are generally considered eligible for disability benefits:
Disorders Related to the Pituitary Gland
A pituitary gland disorder can develop when the gland is releasing an excessive amount of hormones which thereby impacts your kidney function to the point where you develop “diabetes insipidus.”
Disorders Related to the Thyroid Gland
When someone is suffering from hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, they can have difficulty functioning in a variety of ways. In addition, the following types of serious medical issues can be caused by a thyroid disorder:
- Severe, crippling anxiety
- Inability to concentrate for an extended period of time
- Irregular heartbeat
- Erratic behavior and severe mood disorders
- Dramatic weight loss
Disorders Related to the Parathyroid Gland
The parathyroid gland has a direct impact on the amount of calcium in your body. When a disorder in the parathyroid gland develops, it can cause other serious medical problems, including:
- Osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Kidney failure
- Diminished vision, or even the development of cataracts
- Muscle spasms
Disorders Related to the Adrenal Gland
The adrenal gland governs a variety of important bodily functions, including your blood pressure, bone calcium levels, metabolic rate, and your ability to focus on specific tasks and work assignments. In addition, a serious adrenal gland disorder can also cause these other major health problems:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Crippling mood disorders
- Osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Severe hypertension and heightened risk of heart failure
- Cushing syndrome (a hormonal disorder that occurs when high levels of cortisol are present in your body for a long period of time)
Disorders Related to the Pancreatic Gland
The pancreatic gland is located behind your stomach and plays a vital role in breaking down food you ingest, along with moderating your blood sugar levels. When a pancreatic gland disorder develops, it can lead to other serious health issues, including:
- Hyperglycemia (heightened levels of glucose in your blood)
- Hypoglycemia (low levels of glucose in the blood)
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Intestinal necrosis, which can lead to severe damage to your intestines due to a lack of blood supply.
- Seizures and related neurological conditions
Importance of the Residual Functional Capacity Exam
If you or a loved one is struggling with an endocrine system disorder, but your medical condition is not deemed severe enough to meet the specific eligibility requirements set forth in the SSA’s Blue Book, do not give up hope. You may still be able to qualify for disability benefits if you are deemed disabled by the SSA after undergoing a residual functional capacity (RFC) exam. You may be asking yourself, “What the heck is an RFC?” Well, it is basically an assessment to determine what, if any, tasks or activities you could handle in a workplace setting. An RFC can be modified based upon your primary area of work prior to the development of your disorder, meaning an RFC could involve sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work activities.
Generally, when an RFC is conducted, the SSA is looking to determine if you can handle any of the following types of work activities:
- Whether you can sit, stand, and walk and for how long;
- Whether you can use your arms and hands;
- Whether you are capable of effectively interacting with other people in a workplace setting; and
- Whether you can follow instructions and keep on pace during the workday.
How SSA Will Assess Your Disability Benefits Application
In addition to an RFC, it is important to understand that the SSA will also review your medical history, any statements you provide from former work colleagues, family members and friends. However, one of the most important aspects of this assessment is securing the medical opinion and outlook from your treating doctor. This will be a key component of the RFC and will allow your doctor to provide their opinion on what you could reasonably be expected to do and not do in a workplace setting.
Learn More About Your Potential Eligibility for Disability Benefits
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with an endocrine disorder that adversely impacted your ability to work, now is the time to take action. Fill out the free evaluation form on this page to be matched with an experienced disability benefits attorney who can assess your situation and help determine if you qualify for benefits.