Anorexia can be considered a disability if a person’s symptoms impede their ability to work. People who experience anorexia that causes them to miss work may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Anorexia can affect many aspects of life, including a person’s job performance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may classify anorexia as disabling if the agency deems a person’s physical and psychological symptoms to be severe.

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program that provides financial assistance to Americans who meet medical criteria. Individuals who receive these benefits must experience a debilitating health condition that is expected to last for at least one year.

The Social Security disability program does not explicitly list an eating disorder. People with anorexia must first prove to the SSA that they are experiencing health problems that prevent them from working, as anorexia is not a listed condition.

When determining if a person qualifies for benefits, the SSA focuses on several key factors:

  • Is the condition listed as a disability?
  • If not listed, does the condition produce symptoms as severe as those of a listed disability?
  • Can a person prove that their symptoms are severe enough to keep them from working?

The SSA lists several conditions that qualify for benefits. Some of the health problems that qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits and also may be experienced by someone with anorexia include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Chronic anemia
  • Weight loss caused by a digestive disorder
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Repeated episodes of arrhythmias

Saying that they’re grappling with a condition listed by the SSA does not qualify a person for benefits. Before being approved, a person who experiences anorexia must provide medical records that indicate that they’ve been dealing with a particular condition.

People with an eating disorder can receive Social Security disability benefits while receiving treatment for anorexia. During treatment, these individuals can receive medical attention from physicians with experience in treating eating disorders.

Social Security Administration. “Benefits For People With Disabilities.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.

Is Anorexia a Disability?
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