Endocrine System Disorders
These include various glandular (pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, pancreatic, etc.) disorders, including diabetes, that result of overproduction or underproduction of hormones and can produce serious structural or functional changes in the body.
Generally speaking, the existence of an endocrine disorder alone will not support a finding of disability. Disability is predicated on the complications resulting from the disorder. For example, someone with severe or advanced diabetes can experience life-threatening episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis, or debilitating peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy or peripheral vascular disease that can lead to amputations, blindness and other catastrophic complications. Normally, it is not the diabetes per se that imposes disability, but rather the effect its complications have on the person’s body and functioning.
Advances in medical science have led to earlier detection and better control of these disorders. Most endocrine disorders are now reasonably well controlled when prescribed treatment measures are followed. However, this is not always the case. Some disorders can’t be controlled. Additionally, some people whose endocrine systems are dysfunctional can have difficulty functioning due to fatigue, weight loss or gain, changes in mental status and other secondary symptoms even when they haven’t experienced catastrophic complications. In the case of professionals and other highly skilled individuals, these subtle complications can have a profound effect on the ability to work.
Lawyers representing individuals with endocrine disorders must be familiar with how they affect overall functioning; and they must be prepared to present carefully developed, persuasive and individualized medical assessments demonstrating inability to work.