Eating disorders can cause a host of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms that can lead to serious long-term complications. These types of conditions have the highest mortality rate of any other type of mental disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). In fact, every 62 seconds, at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder.

When an eating disorder progresses to the point where it affects your ability to work, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the claimant’s eating disorder legitimately impairs his or her ability to work. Getting social security benefits for an eating disorder in Raleigh can be tough, but our team at Lunn & Forro, PLLC can help.

Call our office in Raleigh today and request a free consultation with a disability attorney to see how we may be of service to you: 888-966-6566.

How does the SSA evaluate eating disorders for disability benefits?

Eating disorders are a complicated classification of conditions that the SSA has deemed as potentially disabling.

Because eating disorders can cause emotional as well as physical impairments, the SSA will evaluate a claimant’s condition under one or more appropriate listings in the Blue Book, the manual the Administration uses when evaluating applications for disability benefits.

Depending on the applicant’s symptoms, this might mean evaluating the condition under mental listings, and/or under physical listings.

In Section 12 – Mental Disorders under 12.00D12, the Blue Book reads:

In cases involving anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, the primary manifestations may be mental or physical, depending upon the nature and extent of the disorder. When the primary functional limitation is physical…, we may evaluate the impairment under the appropriate physical body system listing. Of course, we must 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.”

What are the medical criteria for benefits based on eating disorders?

To qualify for disability benefits, you will need to prove to the SSA that you have a condition listed in the Blue Book or that prevents you from working. Also, the condition must have lasted for year or more or be expected to result in death in order to meet the requirements for disability.

For example, the SSA may evaluate anorexia nervosa under various listings, depending on the ways in which it manifests. First, the SSA may evaluate it under Section 5.08, which deals with weight loss due to digestive disorders. You can qualify for benefits under this listing if, despite continuing treatment, you have a BMI of less than 17.50 (calculated on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart within a consecutive six-month period).

The SSA can also evaluate anorexia under other listings if your disorder has led to kidney damage, heart damage, brain damage, or mental impairments.

Are there other criteria for obtaining benefits for eating disorders?

In addition to meeting the medical criteria, you will need to meet the financial/work requirements to obtain disability benefits. The requirements depend on the type of benefit that you are applying for:

  • SSDI: If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have worked long and recent enough to have sufficient work credits on your record. The amount of credits you need depends upon your age. Additionally, your monthly earnings must not exceed $1,130 to qualify.
  • SSI: If you do not have a sufficient work history to meet the requirements for SSDI, you might instead qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a disability benefit for disabled persons with limited income and resources. To meet the financial requirements, your income must be below a certain threshold and your assets must have a value of less than $2,000.

You are welcome to call our office for help determining if you meet the requirements. To get started, request a free case evaluation with one of our disability lawyers in Raleigh.

How do I prove that I meet the criteria for disability benefits?

You will need substantial evidence from acceptable medical and mental health providers to prove your disability to the SSA. The medical records you will need to submit depend upon the nature of the issues you are experiencing. Some of the items that may be useful include:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements
  • Your medical file from your general practitioner, as well as any specialists you have seen for your eating disorder and its related manifestations
  • Hospital records (e.g., for gastrointestinal bleeding)
  • Brain scans (e.g., for seizures)
  • Heart scans and imaging tests (when your disorder has caused heart complications)
  • Blood work (e.g., for anemia)
  • Input from your mental health physician that demonstrates how your condition is affecting your ability to cope with people, work, and life

If you have a severe eating disorder and it is affecting your ability to work, you might be legitimately disabled; however, proving that to the SSA is not always easy. The amount of evidence the SSA requires to conclude that you are disabled is burdensome. To ensure you submit adequate evidence and obtain the benefits you are entitled to, it is highly recommended to have an attorney assist you with the application process.

What if the SSA has denied my application for disability benefits?

If you recently received notice that the SSA denied your application for benefits, our disability lawyers at Lunn & Forro, PLLC can help you appeal your claim. The majority of claims face denial initially, but don’t let that discourage you. We have been helping people with disabilities in Raleigh for years; we know what is necessary to establish a disability and meet the medical criteria.

You should be aware that there is a strict time limit on when you can appeal a denial. Do not procrastinate. Let us get to work ASAP to help you get the benefits you need. Call us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation: 888-966-6566.