Eating disorders are often more challenging to diagnose as significant mental illnesses, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize certain severe eating disorders as qualifying disabilities. Typically, these cases must demonstrate certain debilitating limitations for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) approval.
How Eating Disorders Can Qualify for Social Security Disability
Eating disorders are detailed in Social Security’s impairment listing “12.13 – Eating Disorders” with a link to “12.00B10” for more detailed information. The listing highlights several different ways eating disorders could qualify as severe mental illnesses. The description is as follows:
- Characterized by disturbances in eating behavior and preoccupation with, and excessive self-evaluation of, body weight and shape. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, restriction of energy consumption when compared with individual requirements; recurrent episodes of binge eating or behavior intended to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or misuse of laxatives; mood disturbances, social withdrawal, or irritability; amenorrhea; dental problems; abnormal laboratory findings; and cardiac abnormalities.
- Examples of disorders that we evaluate in this category include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food disorder.
An applicant must demonstrate (through proper documentation from a medical professional) the following:
- Persistent alteration in eating or eating-related behavior resulting in a change in consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical or psychological health.
Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Interaction with others
- Concentration, persisting, or maintaining pace
- Adapting or managing oneself
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
Really the only way to truly qualify the severity of an eating disorder is to have it diagnosed by a health professional. Family and friend statements will also likely help prove the merit of this serious illness.
However, this is just a broad overview of how eating disorders may qualify for SSI or SSDI. There are additional things to consider, and initial denial is fairly common if the disorder is not diagnosed and/or documented properly. If you’ve been initially denied, it may be time to consult a Social Security attorney. For those working through this process in Eugene or Albany, call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. today at (541) 434-6466 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.