Obesity and Social Security Disability

Unfortunately, many of us struggle with obesity and you may want to know if the fact that someone is obese has any affect on the Social Security Administration’s evaluation of a disability claim.  As a practical matter, obesity is something that is taken into consideration but you should know that in and of itself, obesity, including extreme obesity, does not guarantee a positive disability finding.

As I’ve stated before, the disability process follows many rules and regulations.  There are specific rules and regulations relating to most medical conditions and obesity has its own set of guidelines.  What’s important in looking at obesity is a consideration of “how bad are you affected by your obesity?”.  The answer to this question will differ from person-to-person but obesity often carries limitations to certain physical activities including walking, standing, stooping and climbing. If obesity affects any of these daily activities in a significant way, then it will be evaluated by the Administration.  Obesity can also lead to, or at least contribute to, additional significant medical problems including diabetes, shortness of breath, pain in lower extremities, etc. It is important, however, that the obesity issues are recorded in your medical records and obesity should be discussed with your treating physician.

The disability process focuses on jobs and the ability to work.  Consequently, the type of work you have done and/or the type of work you could possibly do might be affected by your obese condition. On the other hand, certain jobs including those that are sedentary in nature (mostly sit-down jobs) are not affected as much if one is obese.  So the nature of the work is also considered.

Many of us who are obese are able to continue working.  Therefore, a case-by-case analysis is used in making determinations.

Michael A. LeBoeuf, Associate Attorney

Peter J. Lemoine & Associates

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