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Eating Disorder and SSA Disability Benefits

Many Social Security Disability claimants suffer from a severe eating disorder. Eating disorders can consist of anorexia nervosa(which causes claimants to obsess about food to the point that they starve themselves), bulimia (which involves cycles of bingeing and purging) or binge eating (eating a large amount of food even when the eater is not hungry and continuing long after the eater is full).

Any eating disorder can result in severe physical and emotional problems, many of which can be life-threatening. Both male and females suffer from eating disorders and can benefit from a variety of treatments including education, therapy, medication, counseling and hospitalization.

Eating Disorders and SSA Disability Benefits


Whether or not the claimant can qualify for SSDI or SSI for an eating disorder will first depend on whether or not they meet the nonmedical requirements for either SSI or SSDI. If a claimant does not meet the nonmedical requirements their medical condition will not be evaluated; they will, instead be immediately denied SSDI or SSI benefits.

If a claimant meets the nonmedical requirements than the Social Security Administration will determine if their eating disorder is so severe it does not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months.

The Social Security Administration will make their SSDI and SSI disability determination by determining if the claimant’s condition is on the SSA Listing of Impairments (which is a list of all the conditions and symptoms the SSA automatically considers disabling) or if it is so severe it does not allow the claimant to work (this is done through a medical vocational allowance).

Meeting a Listing for an Eating Disorder


Anorexia (or another eating disorder which results in severe weight loss) may be evaluated under listing 6.00 Genitourinary Impairments, Section 6.02 Impairment of Renal Function. Under this listing the SSA would expect that the claimant’s anorexia or similar disorder has resulted in a “weight loss determined by body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.0, calculated on at least two evaluations at least 30 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.”

The SSA also mentions in the 12.00 Mental Disorders section that although an eating disorder can be evaluated under a physical listing, the SSA will “also consider any mental aspects of the impairment, unless we can make a fully favorable determination or decision based on the physical impairment(s) alone.” So it would be possible to prove that the eating disorder was caused by a severe mental disorder.

Winning SSDI or SSI for an Eating Disorder through a Medical Vocational Allowance


If a claimant’s condition does not meet a listing they will have to prove that they do not have the residual functional capacity to work. Claimants must make sure that their medical records include evidence that they cannot work. There could be serious side-effects from both bulimia or anorexia, making it difficult to work: frequent fainting, irregular heart rhythms, socially withdrawn, flat mood or effect, severe depression, vomiting, eventual shut-down of other body systems or organ damage.

Talk to a disability lawyerif you believe that your eating disorder does not allow you to maintain full-time employment and you think you might qualify for SSDI or SSI

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