What is the thyroid? What does it do?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck located under the Adam’s Apple and is part of the endocrine system. This gland releases hormones that control metabolism and affects the way the body uses energy. Thyroid hormones regulate many other vital body functions as well, including breathing, heart rate, body weight, body temperature, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, and more.
VA Ratings for Thyroid Conditions
Conditions of the thyroid are rated under 38 CFR §4.119.
DC 7900 Hyperthyroidism including Grave’s Disease
Hyperthyroidism, also called an overactive thyroid, is a common condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include: fatigue and muscle weakness, heat intolerance, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeat, weight loss, eye swelling and more.
Upon an initial diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, VA assigns veterans a 30% disability rating for a period of six months. After six months, veterans are reevaluated and rated based on the residual symptoms of the disease or complications of medical treatment. VA uses diagnostic codes from the affected body system to rate residuals or complications.
DC 7901 Toxic Thyroid Enlargement
Toxic thyroid enlargement, also known as goiter, is a condition where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged and produces too many hormones. This condition is rated as hyperthyroidism. If the enlarged gland causes disfigurement of the neck, this is rated under DC 7800.
DC 7902 Nontoxic thyroid enlargement
Nontoxic thyroid enlargement is also an enlarged thyroid gland but does not cause it to produce any more or less hormones. Veterans can only be rated for this condition if the pressure of the enlarged gland pushes on organs or body systems, causing additional problems. For example, if this enlargement presses on the esophagus making it difficult to swallow, it can be rated under DC 7203 for stricture of the esophagus. The rating principle for disfigurement mentioned in toxic thyroid enlargement applies here as well.
DC 7903 Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient thyroid hormone. Symptoms of this condition can include: fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, a puffy face, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, heavy or irregular menstrual cycles, depression, a slowed heart rate, and more.
Myxedema is a severely advanced form of hypothyroidism and can be life threatening. Veterans who develop myxedema are assigned a 100% disability rating while the disease is active and for the first six months following the condition’s stabilization.
Veterans with hypothyroidism who do not develop myxedema are assigned a rating of 30% for the first six months following diagnosis. Similar to hyperthyroidism, ratings beyond the six-month period are based on residual symptoms or complications of treatment.
DC 7906 Thyroiditis
Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland. This condition can produce no symptoms at all or lead to the development of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. According to VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities, if the condition presents no symptoms, veterans are assigned a VA rating of 0%. If this condition results in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, VA will evaluate the condition as such.
DC 7914 Malignant Neoplasm of the endocrine system
Veterans with thyroid cancer are automatically rated at 100% while their cancer is active. Following successful treatment, this rating will remain in effect for six months. Once this six-month period has passed, veterans are rated on residual symptoms.