The US government offers benefits to Americans whose disability directly leads to them missing at least one year of work. This is a difficult requirement to meet for those with celiac disease as, theoretically, the gluten-free diet resolves debilitating symptoms. However, for many people it takes years to be diagnosed with celiac disease. If undiagnosed celiac disease prevented you from working for at least one year in the past, you may apply for benefits from that length of time.

A doctor fills out a form on a clipboard.

Making an Unemployment Benefit Claim

To make a claim, your doctor must submit documentation stating the impairments and limitations caused by your celiac disease. Prior clinical tests and your complete medical history will be reviewed to fact-check your doctor’s statements.

What is required to qualify for benefits?

The US government does not give automatic benefits to those with celiac disease. Instead, your case will be reviewed to determine if it is severe enough to be “equal” to another disability that receives automatic benefits.

Two disorders that promise automatic benefits and are similar to celiac disease are “weight loss due to any digestive disorder” and “inflammatory bowel disease.”

To meet the requirements for “weight loss due to any digestive order,” you must have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 17.5 for at least two months, while following all suggested treatment by your doctor at that time.

A number of factors may allow you to equal the requirements for “inflammatory bowel disease.” These factors include, but are not limited to, heavy weight loss, severe and continual stomach cramping, and anemia.

What if I don’t qualify from this method?

If your symptoms are not severe enough to qualify you for disability benefits, the government will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC essentially describes how much work you are able to function on a daily basis – sedentary, light, medium, or heavy.

If undiagnosed celiac disease made you unable to perform sedentary work (sitting for six hours and walking for two hours per day), you may be found disabled. If you are over 50, you may be found disabled even when able to perform sedentary or light work. To support your claim, your doctor should write a note describing your physical work limitations as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease.