Can I Get Social Security Disability for Obesity?
Obesity used to be listed as an impairment in the Social Security’s “Listing of Impairments” but it was removed in 1999. However you can still collect Social Security Disability for obesity under some circumstances – although it is more difficult than it was before. The reasoning is that many obese individuals are able to lead productive lives, and hold gainful employment.
Obesity and the Social Security Blue Book
The Social Security Administration publishes a “blue book” that contains a list of impairments. If your disability meets the criteria for one of the listed conditions, you are automatically approved for Social Security disability benefits. (As long as you also meet the financial criteria of having paid into the system through your payroll taxes).
While obesity has been removed from the blue book you can still be awarded disability benefits for obesity, if:
1.) the limitations it imposes are equivalent or “equal” to those in another impairment listing; or,
2) if the obesity causes or contributes other listed impairments.
How Obesity is Defined for Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration defines obesity as a disease that is characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and over. Morbidly obese adults are considered those who have a BMI of 40 or more.
A doctor or medical provider will also examine the body’s degrtee of excess fat when determining obesity. If someone has a very large percentage of weight coming from muscle, they may have an elevated BMI but still not be obese. Conversely, a person may have a “healthy” BMI, but if they have very little muscle mass, they may still have an unhealthy percentage of their body weight coming from fat.
Obesity is a component in metabolic syndrome, which involves an enlarged waist circumference, insulin resistance, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure. However, to qualify for Social Security Disability, an individual needs more than just a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome – or even diabetes. To be considered disabled and approved for Social Security Disability, the obesity or metabolic syndrome has to:
1.) have caused damage through cardiovascular disease or diabetes; or,
2.) resulted in severly limited mobility and functional abilities.
Social Security Disability for Obesity Through Listing of Impairments
Obesity is often linked to musculoskeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems diseases, as well as to diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea, stroke, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers. If a person suffers from obesity and has any of these other, related conditions, they may meet the listing criteria for those conditions – with the obesity causing or contributing to them.
For example, if obesity causes an individual to be unable to walk effectively, their condition could “equal” the impairment listing for major dysfunction of a weight bearing joint, an impairment-level listing.
Additionally, Social Security will consider how the effects of obesity worsen your ability to function with these other impairments. If, for example, your obesity causes you greater pain or fatigue, you may be “limited” more than a normal weight person – so the SSA will look to see whether your obesity, when combined with the other impairment, meets the requirements of a listing.
Social Security for Obesity Through Medical-Vocational Allowance
If your obesity does NOT combine with another impairment to meet a “blue book” impairment listing, Social Security will still assess your “residual functional capacity” (RFC). The “RFC” is what an individual is capable of doing in a work situation. Obviously, obesity can cause limitations in a person’s ability to function – so it will be considered in the RFC.
Obesity can cause limitations in standing, walking, kneeling, lifting, sitting, crouching, bending, stooping, balancing – and in some extreme cases evenb in the ability to manipulate the fingers for some fine detail jobs. Social Security will look at how the combined effected of obesity and another impairment limit your functioning.
If the Social Securty Administration finds that there is some (ANY) type of job you can do, your claim for Social Security Disability will be denied. But if it is determined that your obesity (plus the symptoms associated with your obesity) are so limiting that there is no job you can perform, you will be awarded benefits under a “medical-vocational allowance.”
Top Long Beach Social Security Lawyers for Obesity
Our caring Long Beach Social Security Lawyers understand that no one “chooses” to be overweight. We recognize that weight issues are even more frustrating when you have an injury or disability – and that you simply may be unable to work due to your weight and your medical conditions. If you are suffering from a weight or obesity condition call us today.
Our attorneys understand the difficulties and challenges that being overweight can add to your situation – and we are here to help. Having an experienced Social Security Lawyer by your side can make the Social Security Disability process faster, easier – and typically vastly improve your chances of successfully obtaining benefits for obesity and other disabling conditions.