Can I Get Social Security Disability Due to Obesity?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than a third (36.5%) of U.S. adults suffer from obesity. Recognized obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Obesity was in the past one of the listed impairments, which meant that you would automatically be qualified to receive Social Security Disability if you met the requirements in the listing. Since it was removed in 1999, it has become more difficult to qualify for Social Security based on obesity solely. However, the Social Security administration will still look at the effect of obesity relative to your ability to engage in work activity if you have another severe health condition. For instance, people who are obese will often be restricted in their ability to climb stairs or ladders, bend, or walk.
In evaluating your claim, Social Security will take into account all of your health conditions. In most cases, obesity will not be the only health issue a person has. For instance, many people who are obese will also have arthritic, degenerative, or cardiovascular conditions. Obesity can result from other medical conditions, including thyroid or other endocrine disorders. Mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and brain injuries can also contribute to excessive weight gain. If you have a medical condition that causes your obesity or is worsened by it, you might be able to qualify for disability by meeting the listing for the condition that caused your weight gain.
If your other conditions do not meet a specific listing, Social Security will make a determination of your residual functional capacity (RFC), which is what you can manage to do despite the limitations of your conditions. This determination will include the limitations caused by obesity. In order to succeed and obtain Social Security Disability, your RFC will have to limit you from carrying out the duties of any job that exists in substantial numbers in the economy. Exceptions to this rule occur if you are found to be unable to adjust to lighter occupations as noted in the grid rules.
If you are considering applying for social security disability or have been turned down and looking to appeal the denial, you may want to consider speaking with an experienced social security disability attorney.