Q I have celiac disease. Can I get Social Security disability benefits?
It is difficult, but not impossible, to get Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) for celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the system. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, a protein that can be found in wheat, rye, and barley, the body responds by attacking the villi of the small intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing nutrients and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, canker sores, and depression.
Celiac disease is diagnosed with a blood test. It is usually treated with a gluten-free diet. Because the symptoms of celiac disease disappear when there is no exposure to gluten, most people with celiac disease do not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.
In order to receive SSI or SSDI for celiac disease, you must be unable to work for a year or longer as a result of your condition. Very few people meet this requirement because the symptoms of celiac disease go away when the patient gives up gluten-rich foods. However, there are exceptions. In cases where it takes years to be diagnosed with celiac disease, an applicant may request benefits for the time that he was unable to work because of the disability. The applicant must have documentation that his symptoms lasted one year or longer and that the symptoms were severe enough to prevent him from being able to work for pay. He must also present documentation showing that he was following all doctors’ orders for medical treatment at that time.
Celiac disease is not listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Blue Book” listing of impairments, so an application for SSDI must include a medical statement showing that your condition is severe enough to be considered equivalent to a disability that has a listing, such as inflammatory bowel disease (5.06) or weight loss (5.08) due to any digestive disorder.
When considering whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI, the SSA will also consider whether you have any other medical conditions, such as depression.
Do you have additional questions? Find the answers in your free copy of Boston SSDI attorney John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. To schedule an appointment with a Massachusetts disability advocate, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.