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Does SSA Qualify Morbid Obesity as a Disability?

Obesity can still qualify for disability benefits, but only if it is demonstrated to cause other physical symptoms that would prevent individuals from working and holds the same level of limitations as an impairment-level listing. Additionally, morbid obesity may fulfill the severity requirements of a related impairment or worsen the effects of another impairment. The Social Security Administration will consider obesity combined with other conditions to meet listing criteria if they can demonstrate a significant work-related limitation.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Morbid Obesity?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses a person’s ability to work by measuring their “residual functional capacity” (RFC). If the applicant has an impairment from morbid obesity, the SSA must consider any additional limitations caused by their excessive weight. Such limitations could include difficulty standing, walking, kneeling, lifting, sitting, crouching, bending, stooping and balancing; as well as reduced ability to manipulate fingers for certain jobs. Where an applicant with obesity also has another impairment such as arthritis in a weight-bearing joint or a heart condition like COPD, the combined issues will limit their functioning even more.

The SSA also considers an applicant’s pain levels resulting from their disability when assessing RFC. This is done to determine whether there is any job they can still do despite their difficulties with mobility or manipulation. But if the SSA finds that due to the severity of their disability and its associated issues no job is available for them then they can be awarded Social Security Disability benefits under what is referred to as a “medical-vocational allowance”.