Getting Disability for Eating Disorders as an Adult

Many mental disorders qualify for social security disability insurance (SSDI). This includes eating disorders. An eating disorder is a complex mental health condition that involves serious problems with the way someone thinks about food. Eating disorders also involve abnormal eating behaviors. Serious health consequences can result from having an eating disorder.

Unfortunately, even though eating disorders can be quite debilitating, someone with an eating disorder may struggle to qualify for social security disability. This is why people with eating disorders should seek the expertise of a disability attorney when trying to qualify for benefits.

Here are four eating disorders that qualify for SSDI.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

People who severely limit their food intake because they have an excessive need to lose weight might have anorexia nervosa. Besides a fear of gaining weight, they might also be severely underweight and have a distorted perception of weight.

Other symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Yellowish skin
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Thinning hair
  • Bluish discoloration of the fingers

All of these symptoms indicate that a person is probably anorexic, which means they are not getting enough calories or adequate nutrition.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

This is another eating disorder characterized by a severe need to lose weight. Instead of not eating enough, those with this eating disorder overeat and then purge by inducing vomiting or other means. Bulimia nervosa also involves a distorted body image and a feeling of guilt or shame after consuming large quantities of food.

Other symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Exercising too much
  • Facial swelling from enlarged glands
  • Damaged teeth and gums

Behaviors associated with bulimia nervosa include not eating in public and going to the bathroom shortly after consuming food.

3. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Some people are picky eaters. However, if when they take picky eating to the extreme, they might have ARFID. This eating disorder involves avoiding foods with certain textures, smells, colors, and other characteristics.

Besides avoiding certain foods, other symptoms of ARFID include:

  • General lack of appetite
  • Fear of choking or vomiting
  • Eating very slowly
  • Unable to finish eating

While this eating disorder is more common in children, adults can have it too. Some adults with AFRID have less than 20 foods that they will eat. Adults with this eating disorder tend to also have depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

4. Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is believed to be one of the most common eating disorders in the country. People with binge eating disorder eat large quantities of food in one sitting. They feel a loss of control while they are eating and usually feel a sense of shame afterward.

Binge eaters usually exhibit the following behaviors and symptoms:

  • Avoid eating in public or with others
  • Steal or hoard food
  • Extremely self-conscious about body weight and physical appearance
  • Fluctuations in weight

About two-thirds of binge eaters are obese. Their obesity and eating behaviors increase their risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

In order to qualify for SSDI, those who have one of the above eating disorders need to prove that their eating disorder significantly impairs their mental or physical health. They will also need to prove that they have marked limitations when it comes to understanding information, interacting with others, and completing tasks.

One more limitation a person suffering with an eating disorder may have to exhibit is the inability to manage their life. This means they lack practical skills to do things like pay bills, cook for themselves, and practice good hygiene.

If you are wondering whether your eating disorder qualifies you for social security disability, contact The Madden Law Firm. When you apply for SSDI, our knowledgeable attorneys will help you with every step of the process. We can also help you gather the correct medical documentation that proves your eating disorder is a disability.


4 Eating Disorders That May Qualify for SSDI. Published 2023. Accessed May 3, 2023.

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