September 29, 2016

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Social Security has changed how it treats obesity when evaluating your disability application.  In years past, you could be found disabled based on excessive body weight alone.  As of October 25, 1999, this changed and the “listing” for obesity was deleted from SSA’s Listings of Impairments.

SSA still considers obesity as a factor that can result in your being found disabled, but we need to show how your body mass impacts your health.   In September, 2002, Social Security published guidelines about how adjudicators and judges are to factor obesity into their decisions.

Specifically, SSA directs disability decision makers to consider how your weight impacts:

  • your musculoskeletal system
  • your respiratory system
  • your cardiovascular system

Further Social Security ruling 02-1p notes that decision makers should consider that “the combined effects of obesity with other impairments can be greater than the effects of the impairments considered separately.”

For example, if you are suffering from congestive heart failure and you weigh 500 lbs., you are likely to have difficulty participating in an exercise plan and you may be more susceptible to vascular or diabetic complications.

Generally, therefore, it is not enough to claim disability based on body weight alone.  You must have some other diagnosed medical issue.

If you feel that you might be disabled because of obesity and some other medical issue, we would like to hear from you.  Please complete the contact form on the right side of this page and an attorney will contact you shortly.