Eating Disorders and SSD

Whether they’re getting ready for a beachy vacation, hoping to fit into a new outfit, or trying to get back into shape after a medical scare, most people encounter a desire to shed a few pounds at some point in their life. Wanting to lose weight is a natural desire, and many people are able to achieve their healthiest body through informed food choices, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, like giving up alcohol.

But for some people, the desire for a “perfect” body becomes an obsession. When someone begins to display unhealthy eating patterns, they may be suffering from an eating disorder.

Abnormal eating habits are the main characteristic of eating disorders, along with a distorted perception of body image and an obsession with weight. Around 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the United States. Although teenage girls are usually seen as the most susceptible, eating disorders affect everyone from male athletes to college students to senior citizens.

Anorexia and Bulimia

The discussion about eating disorders tends to focus on two illnesses: anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia’s characteristics include abnormally low body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia might rely on extreme methods, like severely limited caloric intake, to maintain a low weight. Bulimia, though it also leads to exaggerated perceptions and a desire to control weight, focuses on weight loss through the dangerous practice of binging and purging. This involves eating a large amount of food and then getting rid of the calories. Purging is usually done through induced vomiting or the use of laxatives or other medications.

Other Types of Eating Disorders

While anorexia and bulimia are the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders, they are far from the only ones. Eating disorders cover a wide range of food and weight related issues, including:

  • Binge eating disorders, which leads to excessive or uncontrollable eating
  • Pica, a disorder that gives people cravings for non-food substances like dirt, ice, or paper
  • Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, which occurs when people develop a lack of interest in eating
  • Orthorexia, an obsession with only eating healthy foods

All these eating disorders have different manifestations, but all of them can have serious consequences on a person’s health. Along with unhealthy weight loss, eating disorders also take a physical toll on the body. They can lead to health conditions like anemia, low blood pressure, heart problems, low hormone levels, and organ failure. Due to these dangerous side effects, eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness.

Impact on Work Ability

When someone has an eating disorder, it has a major impact on their everyday life, including their ability to work. When someone is experiencing complications from an eating disorder, they might be too sick to work. Does this mean that eating disorders qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD)?

For an eating disorder to qualify for SSD, it must lead to a “marked limitation” in their ability to:

  • Understand, remember, or use new information
  • Interact with others in a socially appropriate way
  • Concentrate and maintain pace on tasks
  • Adapting and maintaining themselves, like dressing appropriately or maintaining physical hygiene

For many people with eating disorders, issues like dehydration might lead to struggles in the workplace. However, as long as they can perform the above abilities without experiencing severe limitations, their eating disorder alone might not qualify for SSD.

SSD Qualifications

That said, some eating disorder complications might be enough to qualify someone for SSD. For example, if someone’s anorexia leads to an issue like heart failure, that related complication could qualify them for SSD. For a health condition to be considered for SSD, it must last at least 12 months, be expected to last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death. This means that while throat problems from frequent purging might not qualify someone for SSD, a chronic heart condition as the result of extreme weight loss might qualify.

There are many misconceptions about eating disorders, like the myth that it only affects young girls or the belief that eating disorders are synonymous with dieting and exercise. When it comes to eating disorders and SSD, it’s particularly important to know all the facts. If you are looking into a SSD claim for an eating disorder or related complication, an experienced SSD attorney can help you through the complex process.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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