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Obesity, does it negatively impact my SSDI application

It is not uncommon for a Social Security Disability applicant to have multiple health conditions or have a severe health condition and also be overweight. Recently on our disability forum we had a claimant ask if their Social Security Disability Insurance application would be negatively impacted if they were overweight. This blog will address how the Social Security Administration views obesity.

Obesity and SSDI benefits

Years ago the SSA considered obesity a disabling health condition. With the increasing obesity rate in the United States and the ability of many obese individuals to continue to work, the SSA updated their view of obesity.

Now, the SSA does not consider obesity alone as a disabling health condition. If you are obese you will also have to have another very severe health condition which is so severe it does not allow you to work or perform substantial gainful activity to be considered disabled by the SSA.

How does the SSA determine if your condition is disabling?

The SSA has two methods to determine if a claimant is disabled. To make a disability determination the SSA will first consider whether your condition meets or exceeds a condition on their listing of impairments. If your condition is not on the listing they will determine whether it is so severe it lowers your residual capacity to work (this determination is done through a process called the medical vocational allowance).

How will obesity be viewed by the Social Security Administration?

Now, how will the SSA view obesity? First, because obesity is not a disabling condition it will not be on their listing of impairments so to make a disability determination they will evaluate your other conditions and determine if they meet a listing.

If one of your conditions does not meet a listing they will use a process called the medical vocational allowance process to evaluate all of your conditions in their totality to determine if you can work. They will also consider your age, work history, education and transferrable work skills.

How does the SSA view obesity? The SSA acknowledges that obesity is one condition that can lower your ability to do many types of work. If you are obese your obesity is considered a long with your other conditions to measure your functional capacity to work.

So to answer the applicantÂ’s questions, if you are obese this will not be enough by itself to be considered disabling but obesity, in addition to other conditions, may actually lower your ability to work and could help make the argument that you are disabled. So rather than hurting your disability case, being obese can actually help your SSDI case.

Bottom line

Obesity is not considered a disease or a disabling health condition. For most claimants obesity is a condition that can be treated. If you are obese it will be difficult to win benefits unless you can prove you have another condition which is so severe you cannot work.

Hiring a Disability lawyer

If you have been denied SSDI benefits and you do not have the ability to work, contact a disability lawyer for more information. If you have a severe condition and do not understand what you need to do to win benefits a disability lawyer can help.
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