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  • Christopher Le

Can you get Social Security Disability for an Eating Disorder?

Can you receive disability benefits if you suffer from an Eating Disorder?


In 2017, Social Security added a medical listing for eating disorders. Medical Listings contain certain medical criteria which, if met, could automatically qualify that individual for disability. The eating disorders Social Security will evaluate include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food disorder.


Signs and symptoms of these eating disorders include restricted consumption of food, binge eating episodes, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, misuse of laxatives, mood disturbances, social withdrawal, the absence of menstruation, dental problems, and cardiac abnormalities.


Eating Disorders Are Evaluated Just Like Any Other Disability

If an individual files for disability due to an eating disorder, Social Security will evaluate the disorder much like other mental impairments. SSA (Social Security Administration) will consider the disorder’s impact on someone’s ability to follow instructions, interact with others, maintain a work-like pace, and manage activities of daily living. You must keep in mind that in order to prove disability, under social security regulations, you must show that your condition prevents you from working a full time job. If you suffer from an eating disorder that is so severe that it interrupts your ability to work, you will want to first seek medical attention. Its important that you start treatment for this condition. The main reason is so that a mental health professional can help you overcome or manage your eating disorder. If you are still unable to manage the disorder, despite treatment, you may be found disabled.


Is it Common to get Disability for an Eating Disorder?

Even with a major eating disorder that you cannot overcome with treatment, it doesnt automatically mean that you qualify for social security disability. The disability determination services (office who handles disability claims) and the Judge may still be skeptical. This is because eating disorders arent rare. But cases in which an individual files for disability due to an eating disorder are rare. Since disability claims invovlign eating disorders are rare, even experienced Judges may not have had a case like yours. Without experience, a Judge may not truly know or understand the extent of your diagnosis. This is why its important to hire an experienced disability lawyer.


Eating Disorders May Involve Other Symptoms that Can Help Your Disability Claim

If you have an eating disorder, it’s very likely that you may suffer from either physical or mental impairments. Low caloric consumption could result in physical issues or limitations that should also be considered in evaluating your claim. Eating disorders may also have mental issues which should be evaluated, as well.


Eating disorders affect mainly younger individuals. Although it is tougher to win a younger individuals case as opposed to an older individual, Social Security benefits should be available to eligible individuals who become unable to work, even if they are young. So yes you can still be approved for disability if you are young. A seasoned disability attorney can present your case in a way that helps the judge understand why, even at a young age, an eating disorder can cause a disability.


For example, there is a medical listing that applies to “weight loss due to any digestive disorder.” It states that if you have a body mass index (BMI) consistently under 17.5, you should be found disabled. A body mass index, aka BMI, is calculated based on a person’s height and weight. So for example, someone who is 5 feet and 0 inches, weighing 89 pounds, would have a BMI of 17.4., which would meet/equal this medical listing. An experienced social security lawyer can bring to light that someone with an eating disorder and a BMI below 17.5 should meet or equal this listing, which is a ruling a judge could make that would result in a disability case being approved for benefits.


Eating disorders can be considered complex cases as they are rare. Its best to hire and consult with a disability lawyer to see if you qualify for disability benefits.

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