The endocrine system is responsible for regulating our body's functioning. Endocrine glands produce chemicals, called hormones, and release them into our bloodstream where they travel to different organs in the body. The key endocrine glands are the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland (which controls our growth and metabolism), the adrenal glands, the pancreas (which releases insulin to control our blood sugar level), and the pineal gland. Disorders can result if the level of hormones in our body is out of balance.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to apply for disability benefits based on endocrine system disorders if you have been diagnosed with a related medical condition and you have been unable to work for a year or more. You may be eligible for Social Security disability (SSDI/SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if your glandular condition is severe enough.
To learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits, see Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits.
Social Security's Listing of Impairments (known as the "Blue Book") describes various medical conditions and the requirements needed to prove disability for each condition. Section 9.00 of the listing is devoted to endocrine disorders. However, because many endocrine disorders can be controlled with medication, the SSA evaluates endocrine disorders for disability only when the medication has failed to work and they have caused damage to other body systems. The SSA reviews will your medical evidence to determine whether you meet a disability listing under another body system because of damage caused by an endocrine disorder.
Check out our section on Medical Eligibility for SSDI & SSI for more in depth information.
If the pituitary gland releases too many hormones and affects the functioning of the kidneys, it can lead to diabetes insipidus. Symptoms include dehydration and excessive thirst. The SSA would evaluate diabetes insipidus under Listing 6.00, Genitourinary Impairments.
The following conditions can be caused by an imbalance of the thyroid gland.
The parathyroid gland can affect the level of calcium in the body. An improper calcium level can lead to the following disorders.
The adrenal gland can affect your blood pressure, your level of bone calcium, your metabolism, and your ability to think clearly. The following disorders can result from the adrenal gland:
Diabetes is evaluated under pancreatic gland disorders. Hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood) and hypoglycemia (low levels of glucose in the blood) can cause the following conditions:
If you suffer from an endocrine system disorder, but your condition is not severe enough to meet one of the disability listings, above, then you can still be found disabled based upon your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is the most you can do while in a work setting. It can be designated as sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work.
The SSA will consider your medical history, statements from your family and friends, and your own statements in determining your RFC, but most important is a detailed opinion from your doctor on what you can and cannot do. The SSA wants to know if you can do the following types of work tasks: how long you can sit, stand, and walk; how well you can use your arms and hands; how well you can bend and walk up stairs; how well you can interact with the public and coworkers; and how well you can follow instructions and keep on pace during the workday.
If you suffer from diabetes and have difficulty controlling your blood glucose, then you might suffer from fatigue, irritability, and trouble concentrating. Your RFC could look like the following: limited to sedentary work, moderately restricted in working with others, and limited to simple instructions. This RFC would limit you from most, but not all jobs. To be found disabled, usually you must be unable perform any work. However, if you are over age 50, it can be easier to be found disabled even if you can perform up to sedentary or light work.
If your disorder is especially severe and limits your ability to concentrate on most tasks, or if you have extreme fatigue, then you would likely be found disabled because of these non-exertional limitations. To learn more about the process for determining a disability, and how to better your odds of winning your claim, check out our section on How Social Security Determines if You Are Disabled.