Graves' disease is an endocrine disorder that involves the thyroid gland. It is the most common source of hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of thyroid hormones. It has been suggested that Graves' disease is an autoimmune response to some type of virus, because it occurs suddenly and late in life. Women are eight times more likely to suffer from Graves' Disease than men are. Most individuals who have Graves' Disease are between 30 and 50, although it is not uncommon for younger and older individuals to have the disease.
Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment
Graves' disease can be diagnosed by testing thyroid hormone levels in the blood (thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH). Symptoms of Graves' disease include protruding eyeballs (Graves' ophthalmopathy), a skin condition on the lower extremities that causes thick, red skin (Graves' dermopathy), or a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland). Graves' disease can also cause trouble sleeping, fatigue, an irregular heartbeat, and hand tremors. Treatment options for individuals with Graves' Disease might involve anti-thyroid medications, surgical removal of the thyroid, and radioactive iodine treatment.
Does Graves' Disease Qualify for Disability?
Most patients with Graves' disease are able to treat and stabilize their condition without having to quit work. Some patients have a harder time, especially those with endocrine orbitopathy, which can include dry or tearing, bulging eyes, which can cause visual limitations. In addition, the cosmetic figurement caused by bulging eyes can cause some patients to be anxious and depressed.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a specific disability listing for Graves' disease, so it's not likely that you'll win disability benefits for Graves' disease alone. (Though you might be able to get benefits through a medical-vocational allowance.) And if you have other complications, the SSA will assess those medical conditions under the disability listing for that condition. For example, Graves' disease can sometimes lead to increased heart rate, which can lead to cardiovascular damage, which are evaluated under the SSA's cardiovascular listings. Similarly, Graves' can lead to an increased risk of strokes, which are evaluated under cerebrovascular disease, or central nervous system vascular accidents. And if Graves' has caused severe anxiety or depression, the SSA will evaluate these problems under its mental disorders listing.