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Last Updated on February 7, 2024

Overview: Is Hypothyroidism A Disability?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the neck that secretes thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), influencing the metabolic rate, physical, and mental development as well as the body’s growth rate. Thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer, play a central role in altering thyroid hormone levels, thus, predisposing individuals vulnerable to various medical conditions. The symptoms associated with thyroid disorders such as weight issues, fatigue, and depression, can adversely impact the quality of life. In case of the severity of symptoms, disability benefits might be applicable. Many individuals with thyroid symptoms rely on daily synthetic levothyroxine treatment (LT4) for thyroid hormone support. Prime Revival Research Institute is conducting hypothyroidism clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of a natural thyroid hormone replacement that might help individuals transition from synthetic treatment to natural therapy.

Delve into the blog to gain valuable insight into health conditions, including thyroid disorders that might lead to disability risks.

Role Of Thyroid Gland In Regulation of Bodily Functions

The thyroid gland belongs to the endocrine system of the body. The hormones produced by the endocrine glands disseminate to distant organs in the body and are responsible for controlling vital body functions:

  • Growth and development (1)
  • Metabolism
  • Reproduction

The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism by producing hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). A thyroid hormone called thyroxine is, however, crucial as it influences all body functions, such as:

  • Heart and digestive function
  • Metabolism
  • Brain development
  • Bone health
  • Muscle control

Is Hypothyroidism A Disability Or Hyperthyroidism:

Thyroid disorders might impair the quality of life, causing dependency or disability to function normally. The severity of hypothyroidism and its impact on an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and work tasks play a significant role in determining disability status. In individuals with hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland produces increased hormones. Following the problem, the body utilizes energy more quickly than it should. Whereas in hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones, and resultantly, the body consumes slower energy than it should. Under such conditions, laboratory tests manifest above-normal values of T3 ( 80-220 ng/dL) and T4 (5.0 to 12.0μg/dL), while thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) ( 0.4 to 4.0 mIU/L) presents a lower-than-normal range. Listed below are the common causes of altered hormone levels.

Also, read: About thyroid disorders

Causes: Is Hypothyroidism a Disability?

The severity of symptoms depends on the cause of the disease. The following are the common causes for the changes in T3 and T4 levels. (2)

  • Thyroid disorders: Conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) directly affect thyroid hormone levels.
  • Medications and treatments: Certain medications, such as lithium, amiodarone, and interferon-alpha, may interfere with thyroid hormone production or disrupt their normal functions. Other treatments like radioactive iodine therapy and thyroid surgery can also impact thyroid hormone levels.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease are autoimmune disorders that cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. This leads to fluctuations in thyroid hormone levels.
  • Iodine levels: Iodine intake is necessary for adequate production of thyroid hormones. Both iodine deficiency and excess iodine can disrupt thyroid function and hormone levels.
  • Pregnancy and Postpartum: Pregnancy and the postpartum period can cause temporary alterations in thyroid hormone levels. For example, gestational transient thyrotoxicosis and postpartum thyroiditis lead to fluctuations in thyroid hormones.
  • Pituitary or Hypothalamic Dysfunction: The pituitary gland and hypothalamus play a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones. Malfunctions in these glands disrupt the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which affects thyroid hormone levels.
  • Stress and illness: Besides medical conditions, physical or emotional stress, and acute illness can impact thyroid hormone levels.
  • Tumors and nodules: Thyroid nodules or tumors, both benign and malignant, affect thyroid hormone production and regulation.

The Effects Of Hypothyroidism

People are frequently seen raising concerns and questions regarding whether is hypothyroidism a disability or not. It all depends on the thyroid hormone levels. The decrease in T3 and T4 levels with hypothyroidism slows the metabolic rate. This, in turn, suppresses other body systems, including:

  • Cardiovascular and Circulatory Systems: It is not uncommon with hypothyroidism to have slow and weak heartbeats. This reduces the heart’s efficiency, and as a result, less blood flows through the body. In addition, high cholesterol levels are also evident, which adds to the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions. (3)
  • Nervous System: A condition called peripheral neuropathy might develop in hypothyroidism with symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, or burning in the affected parts of your body.
  • Respiratory System: Reduced thyroid hormones weaken lung muscles, causing difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath.
  • Digestive System: Effects on the digestive system might lead to symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, and constipation.
  • Reproductive System: Period irregularities, excessive bleeding, or skipped periods possibly occur in hypothyroid women.
  • Other symptoms: Fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and swelling of hands and feet are other signs and symptoms of a slow metabolism.

Is Hypothyroidism a Disability?

Lifestyle Modifications & Treatment

The primary treatment for hypothyroidism typically involves synthetic thyroid hormone medication. The most commonly prescribed medication for hypothyroidism is levothyroxine (LT4), a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). The treatment aims to restore thyroid hormone levels to normal and alleviate the symptoms associated with thyroid conditions.

While medication is the primary treatment, certain lifestyle modifications might enable support for thyroid health. These include maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring adequate iodine intake (if applicable), managing stress levels, and getting regular exercise. One should understand that lifestyle adjustments alone cannot replace the need for medication in managing hypothyroidism symptoms.

The key aspects of treatment are:

  • Levothyroxine is usually prescribed orally, once daily, preferably in the morning, empty stomach. According to the individualized approach, the dosage is tailored to the individual’s needs and may require adjustment over time.
  • The dose of levothyroxine treatment may vary depending on age, weight, other medical conditions, and individual responses.
  • Regular monitoring of thyroid hormone levels is essential to ensure appropriate dosage. Lab tests measuring thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (T4) levels should be performed every 6-8 weeks.

Is Applying for Disability with Hypothyroidism Possible?

Applying for a disability application can be a challenging and lengthy process but it is indeed achievable. Moreover, seeking support can be an essential first step. You may start by:

  • Informing your doctor of your intent and seeking their guidance.
  • Gathering necessary documentation such as a confirmed diagnosis.
  • Compiling records of your treatments, symptoms, and doctor visits to substantiate the severity of your hyperthyroidism.
  • Gathering medical records, including lab test results to support your disability claim.
  • Presenting documentation that shows the impact of your condition on your ability to perform daily activities and maintain employment.

However, providing evidence of your past employment history and how your condition has adversely affected your ability to perform during the disability hearing is crucial.


Answering the most frequently asked question, ‘’Is hypothyroidism a disability?’’ depends on the severity of the condition and its impact on an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and work. In a few circumstances, severe or poorly controlled hypothyroidism may result in significant physical and cognitive impairments that may qualify under disability benefits programs. In either case, it is essential to determine a comprehensive treatment plan that would enable optimal management of thyroid conditions.

Dr. Unzila Nadeem

Dr. Unzila Nadeem currently works as a Patient Recruitment Associate. With her combined experience as a dentist and her firm grip on research processes, she makes a valuable addition to our Patient Recruitment team.