A. Definition

Malnutrition is the condition that occurs when the body does not get enough nutrients to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. It is characterized by significant weight loss, often due to a digestive disorder.

B. General Information

The Social Security Administration evaluates malnutrition as it relates to any digestive disorder or disease. Disability determiners will look for evidence that your child is suffering from a chronic nutritional deficiency, despite the continued use of prescribed treatments. They also will require evidence that malnutrition has affected your child’s growth and development. An established guide for height, weight, and BMI will be used to assess your child’s growth and the impact of malnutrition on his or her development.

Impairments often associated with malnutrition include inflammatory bowel disease and short bowel syndrome. HIV infection/AIDS also could affect your child’s digestive system and lead to malnutrition.

Children who are severely malnourished typically experience slow behavioral development. Mental retardation may occur in extreme cases. Even when treated, the lack of adequate nutrition can have long-term effects in children — with impairments in mental function and digestive problems persisting, in some cases, for the rest of their lives.

C. Social Security Administration Medical Listing 105.08 – Malnutrition

Many types of digestive disorders can result in malnutrition and growth retardation. To meet the malnutrition criteria for medical listing 105.08-A, SSA needs documentation of a digestive disorder with associated chronic nutritional deficiency, despite prescribed treatment.

SSA evaluates growth retardation criteria by using the most recent growth charts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

1. If your child has not attained age 2, SSA will use weight-for-length measurements to assess whether your child’s impairment meets the requirement of medical listing 105.08-B1. CDC weight-for-length charts are age-and gender-specific.

2. If your child is age 2 or older, SSA will use BMI-for-age measurements to assess whether your child’s impairment meets the requirement of 105.08-B2. (BMI is the ratio of weight
to the square of height.) BMI-for-age is plotted on the CDC’s gender-specific growth charts.

3. SSA will calculate BMI using inches and pounds, meters and kilograms, and centimeters and kilograms. You must have measurements of your child’s weight and height without shoes for these calculations.

SSA calculates BMI using one of the following formulas:

  • English Formula: BMI = Weight in Pounds / (Height in Inches × Height in Inches) × 703
  • Metric Formulas: BMI = Weight in Kilograms / (Height in Meters × Height in Meters) and BMI = Weight in Kilograms / (Height in Centimeters × Height in Centimeters) × 10,000.

Your representative can help you determine whether your child’s malnutrition and/or growth retardation is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits under the guidelines of the Social Security Administration.