Disability Determination for Celiac Disease

If your condition is severe enough, or combined with impairments caused by other illnesses, you may get Social Security Disability benefits for celiac disease.

Celiac, or coeliac, disease, is a digestive condition triggered by gluten that damages the lining (specifically, the villi) of the small intestine, preventing it from absorbing nutrients from food. It can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea, and if ignored, malnutrition, osteoporosis, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Celiac disease, also called spru, or gluten intolerance, is caused by a reaction to gliadin, which is a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Exposure to gliadin in foods causes an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine.  The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease is now considered an autoimmune disorder, though it is not included by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in its immune system listings (or in its digestive system listings).

Social Security Disability Benefits Unlikely

You aren't likely to get Social Security disability benefits based on evidence of celiac disease alone. The symptoms and impairments of the condition are not likely to be deemed severe enough to profoundly interfere with an individual’s ability to engage in gainful employment, especially since condition usually improves by removing products containing gluten from the diet. However, when celiac disease is combined with impairments caused by other illnesses, a person suffering from celiac may be able to get disability benefits. In addition, if your celiac disease has caused irreversible damage that makes it impossible for you to work (such as cerebellar damage), you may be able to qualify for benefits under the resulting impairment.

Getting Disability Benefits for Related Illnesses

Patients with celiac disease may also suffer from:

  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • type 1 diabetes
  • autoimmine thyroid disease (such as Grave’s or Hashimoto’s disease)
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • intestinal cancer or lymphoma, or
  • osteoporosis.

The SSA does recognize and pay disability benefits for all of the above diseases, depending on their severity.

In addition, if you were't able to work for a period of over a year because you hadn't been diagnosed with celiac disease, although your doctor has now diagnosed you and put you on a gluten-free diet, you may be able to receive benefits for the period where you were unable to work due to untreated celiac disease (called a closed period).

See an Attorney

A quick consultation with a disability lawyer can help shed some light on the options you have to get disability benefits. To learn more, see our section on Disability Lawyers & Advocates.

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