How Obesity May Impact a Social Security Disability Application

In 1999, the Social Security Administration (SSA) removed obesity from the Listing of Impairments for Social Security disability. Section 9.09 was deleted because, according to the SSA, it did not, “represent a degree of functional limitation that would prevent an individual from engaging in any gainful activity.”  In other words, the SSA did not believe that Section 9.09 was effective in determining whether a person’s disability from obesity was truly severe enough to warrant disability benefits.

Obesity May Still Qualify as a Reason for Social Security Disability

Even though obesity longer has its own disability listing, the SSA has added specific language to certain sections of the Listing of Impairments to make clear that obesity may still be considered a disability. Specifically, the SSA added language to the sections on musculoskeletal, respiratory and cardiovascular disabilities to remind the adjudicators of disability claims that:

  • The SSA considers obesity to be a medically-determinable impairment.
  • Obesity may make other impairments worse.
  • Obesity should be considered when evaluating all disability applications whether the application is pursuant to a specific listing in the Listing of Impairments or whether the adjudicator is considering residual functional capacity and ability to work.

The language was specifically added to these sections because obesity may have a significant impact on these body systems.

What to Do if You Are Obese

If you are obese and you cannot work, it is important to understand your rights and to file a complete application for Social Security disability benefits. You will need to be explicit about how your obesity impacts your life, how it impacts your other health conditions, and how it impacts your ability to work.

Do not suffer in silence. Instead, make sure that your claim is heard, your rights are protected, and you get the benefits that you deserve. Call now to see how we can help.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law