Thyroid cancer is cancer that originates in the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of your lower neck, makes proteins, and regulates how quickly your body uses energy and how sensitive your body is to other hormones. Whether you can get Social Security or SSI disability benefits for thyroid cancer can depend on the type of thyroid cancer you have.
Types of thyroid cancer include:
(Expedited treatment for "compassionate allowances" is available for those with anaplastic carcinoma, due to the severity and poor prognosis of the cancer. Compassionate allowances are available for certain diseases to be able to receive benefits quickly. For more information, see our article on compassionate allowances.)
Common symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
Treatments for thyroid cancer include:
In addition, individuals who have had thyroid cancer must take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of their lives.
There are two ways in which an individual can get Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI). An individual can meet (or "equal") the requirements of one of the medical listings that is set out in the Social Security “Blue Book” or they can show that they are unable to work. Those who are deemed disabled under the cancer listing for thyroid cancer will be considered disabled for up to three years after the date of their remission.
Thyroid cancer has a specific listing in the Social Security “Blue Book” under Malignant Neoplastic Diseases- Thyroid Gland. To meet this listing, you must show that you have one of the following:
The type of medical evidence that is needed to prove the above listing includes:
For treatment, you will have to provide specific information about the radioactive iodine therapy, including:
If you are undergoing treatments, Social Security may wait to make a decision until the treatment has time to take effect.
If you do not meet the exact requirements for the above listing, you may be able to "equal" it if you can show that your impairments are of equal severity to those in the thyroid listing. For example, someone who has papillary carcinoma that was treated through surgery, yet the cancer continued to spread to other areas of the body, should be able to equal the listing for thyroid cancer. For more information, see our article on equaling a disability listing.
If you don't meet or equal the above listing, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you are unable to work. To show that you are able or unable to work, the Social Security Administration uses a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. The RFC looks at your physical and mental limitations with regards to work.
For those with thyroid cancer, shortness of breath may affect their ability to do physical work at a job, and treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, may cause fatigue that can decrease both physical and mental abilities on the job. Social Security will look at all of your impairments and limitations together when determining if you are unable to work. For more information on how Social Security makes this determination, see our section on the RFC getting disability because of medical-vocational limitations.