Can I Get Disability Benefits for an Eating Disorder?

October 27, 2017
Dayes Law Firm

Due to the possible effects that eating disorders can have on a person’s physical and psychological systems, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a specific listing for eating disorders under which claimants may qualify for disability benefits.

The Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys at Dayes Law Firm PC are well-versed in all aspects of Social Security Disability law. We represent individuals who are seeking disability benefits based on eating disorders and other medical impairments. We can review your claim during a free consultation.

Eating Disorders that Commonly Qualify for Disability

Some of the eating disorders that commonly qualify claimants for disability benefits include:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss resulting from restricting the number of calories a person consumes each day. The disorder often begins during adolescence, but children and older adults may also have this disorder. Anorexia nervosa does not require a person to be underweight to be diagnosed with this condition.

Individuals with this condition often demonstrate the following symptoms:

  • Restriction of calories to lead to a low body weight for a person’s age and height
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • Undue influence of body weight on a person’s self-image, disturbance in how a person feels about his or her weight or shape or denial of the seriousness of a low weight

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle in which a person eats a large portion of food and then makes himself or herself vomit to compensate for the binge eating. Individuals with this disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Frequent binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting
  • Feelings of being out of control during binges
  • Self-esteem that relies heavily on body image

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It consists of continuously eating large quantities of food, often very quickly and to the discomfort of the person consuming the food. Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Eating much more quickly than normal, eating until the person feels uncomfortable or eating when not hungry
  • Lack of control of eating during binge sessions
  • Not purging or using other measures to compensate for the binges
  • Feelings of shame about eating habits

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Disorder

Unlike many other eating disorders, avoidant/restrictive food disorder is not focused on a person’s body shape, size or image. It is instead concerned about the type of food a person consumes. People with this disorder do not consume enough calories to develop properly or to maintain basic body function due to their selective nature about what they consume.

Symptoms of avoidant/restrictive food disorder include:

  • Lack of interest in food and eating
  • Avoiding food due to its appearance or smell
  • Significant weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Dependence on supplements
  • Interference with psychological functioning

Meeting the Listing Requirements

The Social Security Administration includes a specific listing for eating disorders. If a person meets the non-medical requirements as well as the specific criteria under the listing, he or she qualifies for benefits. The SSA characterizes eating disorders as disturbances in eating behavior and a preoccupation with body weight and shape.

To meet the listing, you must have medical documentation that shows a diagnosis of an eating disorder that results in a change in what you consume and significantly impairs your physical or psychological health. Additionally, you must show an extreme limitation in one or a marked limitation in two of the following areas:

  • Understanding, remembering or applying information – This area refers to the ability of a person to learn new things, understand instructions and recall information to perform work duties.
  • Interacting with others – This area refers to the ability to relate to and work with others in the workplace, including co-workers, customers and supervisors. This area includes working on joint projects, responding to social cues, answering questions and responding to feedback.
  • Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace – This area of mental functioning encompasses the ability to stay focused on a task and complete it. This ability may be impaired if you have problems initiating a task, completing a task on time, working with others without distracting them or working a full work day without needing more than the provided break time.
  • Adapting or managing oneself – This area refers to the ability to control behavior and keep control of emotions.

Marked limitation is defined as an individual who is seriously limited, while extreme limitation means that a person is not able to function in the area on an independent, appropriate, effective or sustained manner.

The SSA evaluates medical evidence to determine the extent of limitations and how these limitations will likely affect the work setting. It considers the extent of difficulty you would have, whether you would require extra help to function and whether you would require accommodations to perform your work.

If You do not Meet the Listing Requirements

If you do not meet the listing requirements as described above, the SSA considers the medical limitations that you have in combination with other factors like your age, work history and education to determine if there is other work you can perform.

Individuals with eating disorders may have problems concentrating on work, working consistently for sustained periods or being able to work with others, for example. The SSA considers these limitations and the extent to which they would likely hinder the ability of the claimant to work.

If the SSA concludes that your cannot maintain any type of work based on these factors, the claimant will be approved for disability benefits.

Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer

Eating disorders can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to work and maintain a job. Our compassionate Social Security Disability attorneys can discuss your disability claim with you during a free, no-obligation initial consultation. There is no upfront cost and if you decide to pursue your claim, you pay us nothing unless we obtain benefits for you.

Call 1-800-503-2000 for help with your claim.