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Is Obesity a Disability?

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Obesity may not be considered an impairment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) without proper evidence of physiological disorder, according to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The ADA defines a disability as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. While some cases have considered severe obesity as a disability, it is not always the case.

In other contexts, such as employment or insurance, obesity may be considered a disability if it meets certain criteria, such as substantially affecting a person’s ability to perform job duties or engage in daily activities.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is not just about carrying a few extra pounds – it’s a condition where excessive or abnormal fat accumulation poses a serious health risk. A body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity. BMI is a measurement of a person’s body weight in relation to their height.

Obesity can sometimes be a complex condition with several elements that contribute to it, including a person’s genetics, environment, and behavior. Being overweight or obese can also increase the risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. More than 4 million people died in 2017 due to complications from being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

Obesity treatment may involve a combination of lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and improving diet. Sometimes, it may require medical interventions, such as medication or weight-loss surgery. 

Disability For Obesity

Causes of Obesity

Although obesity is more common in adults, the growing prevalence of obesity in children has become a significant public health concern. Among the factors that contribute to obesity may include:

  • Eating patterns
  • Physical activity levels
  • Sleep routines
  • Genetics
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental factors
  • Medical conditions
  • Psychological factors

Excessive weight can also cause breathing and gastrointestinal problems, such as gallstones, and others. 

Can you get disability benefits for obesity?

Obesity alone is not enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Instead, an applicant must show that obesity has led to a disabling condition outlined in the Social Security Administration (SSA) blue book, the agency’s guidebook for disabling conditions. 

If you are severely obese and applying for disability benefits, you will need to show that your obesity has led to an eligible medical condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months. The SSA recognizes various conditions that are commonly associated with obesity, such as heart disease, hypothyroidism, depression, diabetes, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and rheumatoid arthritis. If you can demonstrate that an eligible condition related to your weight makes it impossible to engage in day-to-day activities, you may be eligible for disability benefits for obesity.

Medically qualifying conditions for obesity

Obesity can cause medically qualifying conditions for disability benefits, but obtaining approval often requires additional medical evidence beyond a diagnosis alone. Applicants may need to provide evidence such as test results, doctor’s reports, and imaging tests to support their claim.

A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) analysis, which is a detailed evaluation of your functional abilities, may be used to support your claim for disability benefits due to obesity. The assessment may examine various factors that are relevant to your application, such as:

  • Heart function test results
  • Stress level test results
  • Lab tests showing cholesterol and diabetes levels
  • BMI reports
  • Surgical and hospitalization records (if applicable)
  • Imaging tests to show musculoskeletal complications
  • Psychological evaluation reports
  • Breathing complication reports

How to apply for disability benefits for obesity

To apply for disability benefits related to obesity, you may want to consider these general steps:

  • Gather medical records: You will need to provide medical evidence to support your claim for disability benefits related to obesity. This may include medical records, doctor’s notes, and test results.
  • Submit an application: You can apply for disability benefits online through the SSA’s website, by phone, or in person at a local SSA office.
  • Provide additional information: The SSA may request additional information to support your claims, such as more detailed medical records or information about your work history.

An applicant can apply for two types of disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). 

How much does disability pay for obesity?

The amount of disability pay an individual can receive for obesity through Social SSDI or SSI depends on several factors, including their work history, age, and other sources of income.

For SSDI, the amount of the monthly benefit is based on a person’s lifetime average earnings before they became disabled. In 2022, the average SSDI payment amount was $1,333 per month, with a maximum of $3,148 per month.

The maximum federal benefit amount for SSI was $794 per month for an individual and $1,191 per month for a couple in 2022. The actual amount can be lower depending on income, resources, and living arrangements.

Need Legal Help? Contact an experienced disability law firm

A Miami disability lawyer can guide you through the process and fight on your behalf if your disability claim is denied. Schedule a free and no-obligation by calling us today at 239-549-6689.