Obesity is a tricky subject when it comes to Social Security Disability benefits. While many of the health complications that arise from obesity qualify for benefits, obesity in and of itself doesn’t.
The Social Security Administration defines obesity as “a chronic disease marked by an excess of body fat and usually caused by a combination of genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.”
With more than one third of Americans suffering from some form of obesity, it’s understandable that many have questions on how the Social Security Administration treats obesity for the purposes of disability benefits.
Obesity and the Blue Book
Obesity used to be listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, but the agency removed its listing in 1999. The basis for that decision was that plenty of people who are obese are still able to lead normal lives and hold full-time jobs without significant complications.
That doesn’t mean obesity doesn’t qualify at all. As mentioned above, many of the complications that arise from obesity, such as musculoskeletal problems, diabetes and cardiovascular complications, are listed in the Blue Book, and oftentimes you can qualify for benefits if you can prove your symptoms meet the listing requirements.
Evaluating Obesity for Benefits
Even if your symptoms don’t meet one of the listings, you can still qualify for benefits under the GRID rules. The Social Security Administration will evaluate your residual functional capacity to determine if your condition severely limits your ability to stand/walk/sit for extended periods of time, carry heavy objects, climb stairs, crouch/bend etc. If they believe it would be unreasonable to expect you to hold a full-time job given these limitations, you will more than likely be awarded benefits.
The Social Security Administration will also take your weight into account when evaluating other conditions you may have. For instance, an obese individual will probably experience more complications with knee arthritis than somebody who does not have to carry around extra body weight.
Consult an Attorney
If you are obese and have health complications the prevent you from working, we highly recommend consulting with a Social Security disability attorney. Disability attorneys have a high understanding of the Social Security application process, and can give you customized advice based on your situation and medical conditions. Filing for disability benefits based on obesity complications can be a very confusing process, so it helps to have an expert at your side.