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Severe weight loss can I get SSDI benefits?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “Can I receive SSDI benefits for severe weight loss if I am no longer able to work?” Getting SSDI benefits for any disabling health condition will not be as simple as filling out an SSDI application and submitting it to the Social Security Administration for processing. In fact, the SSA will not consider you disabled unless you have a severe health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and will not allow you to work. Claimants must also have sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI benefits.


Digestive disorders, severe weight loss and SSDI benefits


Severe weight loss is often a symptom of another severe digestive condition such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatic (liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, or malnutrition. The SSA does recognize, however, that if you have a severe digestive disorder it is likely to lead to complications which can include weight loss.

Assuming you meet the basic requirements for SSDI benefits, the SSA will review your medical records to determine if you are disabled. The SSA will expect your medical documentation to include “appropriate medically acceptable imaging studies and reports of endoscopy, operations, and pathology, as appropriate to each listing, to document the severity and duration of your digestive disorder.” Such evidence can include sonography, CT scans, MRIs, radionuclide scans and x-rays.

What if I have not had treatment for severe weight loss?


If you have not seen a doctor and have not received any treatment for your digestive disorder and weight loss the SSA will not generally award you benefits. The SSA has determined that digestive disorders generally respond well to treatment (such as surgery), and they will make the assumption that if you have not received proper treatment you do not know for sure that the appropriate therapy or treatment may not improve your condition.

Conditions listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments


Claimants applying for SSDI benefits may win benefits for severe weight loss by either having a condition and symptom listed on the SSA listing of impairments or they may have sufficient evidence to prove their condition is so severe they cannot work.

To determine if you have a listed condition you can review the SSA Listing of Impairments. If your condition is listed than you need to make sure your medical records also list your corresponding symptoms and that those symptoms are as severe as the symptoms in the listing.

For example, if you have had severe weight loss you can review the listing under 5.00 Digestive Disorders, Section 5.08 Weight loss due to any digestive disorder. Under this listing you may qualify for SSDI benefits if you have been receiving the proper treatment for any digestive disorder but you have “a BMI of less than 17.50 calculated on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.”

Claimants whose condition does not meet a listing may need to discuss their case with a disability lawyer for more information about how to prove they cannot work.
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