An eating disorder is more than an extreme diet. It is a mental illness that can require years of costly treatment and therapy to overcome. If your child or teenager suffers from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or another eating disorder, you might qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on the child’s behalf.
Getting disability for a child with an eating disorder is not an easy or cut-and-dry process. The child’s condition must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict guidelines. Also, your family has to meet specific income requirements, which can vary based on the number of children and number of adults in your household.
A qualified disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group, can examine your situation and determine if you have a chance to receive benefits for your child’s eating disorder. We handle the process from beginning to end and keep you in the loop the entire time. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 to learn how to get disability benefits for children with anorexia or other eating disorders.
Which disability program should I apply for?
If you have researched disability benefits, you might have come across two terms—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is important to understand the difference in these two programs and which you qualify for based on your situation.
SSDI is a government-run disability insurance program that draws its funding from payroll taxes. In other words, when you work and get paid, part of your payroll taxes go to this program. If you then become disabled and cannot work, you can file a claim and receive SSDI benefits. The program is only available to those who have a sufficient work history and have paid into the system and is, therefore, not available to children.
SSI, by contrast, is a government welfare program for low-income individuals and families dealing with disability. A parent seeking benefits on behalf of a disabled child might qualify for SSI.
Does my child’s eating disorder qualify for SSI benefits?
The SSA provides a list of requirements that your child’s condition must meet to receive benefits for anorexia or another eating disorder. To qualify, we must:
- Show medical documentation proving your child displays altered eating habits;
- Prove that this change has impacted your child’s psychological or physical health; and
- Provide evidence that your child has a marked impairment in at least two of the following areas:
- Social functioning;
- Personal functioning;
- Cognitive or communicative functioning; and
What if my child does not meet these requirements?
The SSA offers another route to receive benefits if your child does not meet these requirements specifically. We can apply for SSI disability on the basis of your child’s impairment being functionally equivalent to one or more of the above criteria.
The SSA defines functional equivalency as impairment in the following six domains. To qualify, your child must show extreme impairment in one area or marked impairment in two or more areas:
- Performing tasks;
- Self-care; and
- Health and physical well-being.
What evidence do we need?
The SSA cares more about the functional limitations caused by your child’s condition than the condition itself. This means that to build a strong case, we have to show proof that your child’s eating disorder prevents him or her from functioning at the same level as peers. We will gather the following evidence to do this.
We can use existing reports and diagnoses from psychiatrists to establish that your child has an eating disorder. If needed, we will work with you to schedule psychiatric exams to establish the extent of the condition and its effect on your child’s life.
Standardized Test Results
We examine standardized test results and identify if there has been a marked decline in performance since the onset of the eating disorder.
We can use the results of lab testing to determine if your child’s eating disorder is causing any additional physical ailments.
Signs and Symptoms
We will use your child’s medical records to show all symptoms and signs of illness that doctors have recorded.
Reports and Observations
We can interview teachers, school administrators, parents of your child’s peers, and other individuals who spend time around your child for testimony about any behavioral changes or functional impairments related to his or her disorder.
What are the income requirements for SSI?
Because SSI is a program for the needy, only families meeting certain income requirements are eligible. The most you can make varies based on how many adults and ineligible children—meaning children with no qualifying disabilities—are in your household. For instance, as of 2017, a family with one ineligible child and two adults in the household cannot earn above $4,169 per month.
However, you do not have to count all the money you make toward the SSA’s qualifying limit. You can exclude certain forms of income and also make deductions from your total income for various expenses.
We can analyze your household income and expenses to determine if you have a chance to qualify for SSI. We can help you structure your income and expenses to make the most of the available exemptions and deductions, increasing your chances of approval.
Do I need an attorney to apply for SSI benefits for a child with an eating disorder?
Though you can apply on your own, working with a disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group, can help you build a stronger case for your child’s disability. We can help you navigate the SSA’s confusing and seemingly arbitrary rules and guidelines.
We have helped many clients receive SSI benefits for disabled children. We can put our experience, knowledge, and vast resources to work for you, too. The consultation is always free, so call our office today at 865-566-0800 to set up case review.