Lauren really tried to go to her business analyst job every day. However, complications from her eating disorder made it more and more challenging to handle her daily activities. She finally stopped working because of her weakened physical and mental health. A friend told her to talk to a disability lawyer about getting disability benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). She had no idea whether eating disorders are a disability or not but decided to check it out.
Eating Disorders in the USA
Most people are not aware of how complicated eating disorders are. Technically, they are rooted in psychological conditions with symptoms related to over- or undereating. Common eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
- At least 30 million people have eating disorders
- There’s a high mortality rate for people with eating disorders
- Eating disorders affect all races, ages, and ethnic groups
But are eating disorders disabilities for the purposes of receiving disability benefits?
Social Security Disability Benefits, Generally
Some people have access to private disability insurance. For those who do not, the Social Security Administration (“Social Security”) offers to government programs: SSI and SSDI.
- SSI is a needs-based program provided to people who qualify, including disabled people. However, you have to meet specific income and resource limits, along with other criteria, in order to be eligible.
- SSDI pays people who are unable to work due to a disabling condition. While there are no income and resource limits, applicants must have earned enough work credits to qualify.
In this article, we will look primarily at whether eating disorders qualify for SSDI disability benefits. For you to receive benefits, your disability must meet Social Security’s definition of disability:
- “You cannot do work that you did before;
- We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- You have had your disability or expect to have your disability for at least one year or to result in death.”
Not everyone with an eating disorder can qualify for SSDI.
Meeting Social Security Guidelines
While processing your application, Social Security will rely on its Listing of Impairments to decide whether you meet the definition of disability or not. For example, eating disorders appear in Section 12.00 Mental Disorders – Adult.
According to this section of the Listing of Impairments, Social Security staff need to see:
Documentation of your eating disorder that “significantly impairs physical or psychological health.”
“Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two” areas of mental functioning.
You have a documented history of your disorder for more than two years, along with evidence of treatment and a “minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment.”
The best way to find out if your condition qualifies for SSDI is to consult a disability lawyer.
Call to Discuss Eating Disorders as Disabilities
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have the experience and ability to take on your case. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. We assist clients throughout Southern California from our home office in Anaheim.