If you have celiac disease, chances are good you’ve suffered from painful symptoms for many years. This autoimmune condition can take time to properly diagnose and treat. It is essentially an inflammatory reaction in the gut to eating gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that is widely used throughout the American food system. It is found in many foods you may not expect. This makes it difficult – though not, of course, impossible – to avoid.
We recently received a question from one of our readers about celiac disease:
Reader question: Does celiac disease qualify me for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration?
Answer: Maybe, but only if you have a related condition that prevents you from working. There is a listing for digestive diseases in the SSA’s blue book. However, it doesn’t specifically mention celiac disease.
How Celiac Disease Affects Your Health
When you don’t know you have celiac disease or cannot avoid gluten, a reaction in the intestine creates ongoing discomfort. That inflammation damages your small intestinal lining and can lead to medical complications. The disease can also prevent absorption of some nutrients, causing other health issues.
Common symptoms of celiac disease may include:
To avoid symptoms, sufferers must maintain a strict gluten-free diet.
What Are My Options if I Can’t Work?
Please read on for information about your options if you suffer from celiac disease and are unable to work. Unfortunately, getting approved for disability benefits with this specific condition is much harder than getting a workplace accommodation via the ADA law.
IMPORTANT: To qualify for Social Security disability, you must prove, via medical records, that your health forces you to stop working for one year or longer. Further, you must prove your celiac disease directly causes or relates to your inability to work.
Because you can manage celiac disease through a gluten free diet, following this order from your doctor would likely clear up your symptoms. In some cases, this should allow you to still work. Of course, every case is different. If you follow your doctor’s treatment orders and still can’t work due to your disease, it may be worth speaking to an attorney to get your records together and apply for benefits.
Pro Tip: A disability lawyer can tell you if your claim may qualify at no cost to you.
Would A Condition Related to My Celiac Disease Qualify Me for Benefits?
Yes, it’s entirely possible. If you experience severe weight loss from a digestive disorder, then you may qualify for benefits. This could certainly apply to some celiac patients. According to Celiac.org, the SSA reviews your application to find out if your issue’s severe enough to equal another disability that does qualify for benefits. In addition to “weight loss due to any digestive disorder,” the agency also approves benefits for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Let’s talk about how the SSA evaluates these two listed conditions. For a severe weight loss claim, your medical records must show you have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 17.5 for 2+ months while following all suggested treatments by your doctor.
To meet the SSD requirements for IBD, your records must show all the following symptoms affect you:
- Significant weight loss
- Severe and ongoing stomach cramps
There is another situation in which your celiac disease may qualify you for benefits. If your first diagnosis occurred as an adult, statistics show your doctor may likely also diagnose you with a second autoimmune disease. Related autoimmune conditions that often affect celiac patients may include:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Type 1 diabetes
Be sure to ask your doctor for copies of all your most recent medical records. Many of these other autoimmune diseases will automatically qualify you for benefits if they force you to stop working. In other words, if you have one or more health problems that often affect people with celiac disease, many of these conditions do qualify — so put all of them on your claim.
What About the ADA?
You do not have to simply suffer at work in silence. Furthermore, you are not alone. As many as 3 million Americans have celiac disease. According to one celiac sufferer, the ADA law passed in 1990 and updated in 2008 says that celiac counts as a disability for things like reasonable accommodations in the workplace. This means making it possible for you to take more bathroom breaks, for example.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Not sure which medical records will help you get SSD benefits? A lawyer can give you free claim help that applies to your specific situation over the phone. You’ll pay nothing now for expert help filing your SSD claim paperwork. Even better: Government records show people helped by lawyers are 3x more likely to receive benefits.
Social Security attorneys always work on contingency. They also won’t take on your case unless they believe you qualify for SSD benefits. That means you owe $0 for legal assistance unless the SSA pays you a cash award. If you win, then you’ll only pay one small fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now:
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.