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Can I Receive SSDI Benefits for Obesity?

October 31, 2019 Blog

If you are suffering from morbid obesity, then you might find that your ability to work is severely limited.  Many prospective Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) claimants hope to obtain benefits due to the impairments wrought by their obesity, but find that the Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects their benefits claim.  This can lead to quite a bit of confusion, and deservedly so — after all, it’s obvious how obesity can prevent an individual from productively engaging in the workforce.

Well, let’s take a brief look at the connection between SSDI benefits and obesity.

Obesity Cannot Be the Primary Disabling Condition

Those seeking SSDI benefits should be aware that obesity — in and of itself — is not sufficient to justify a claim for benefits as the “primary disabling condition.”  In order to successfully obtain benefits from the SSA, there must be some other disabling condition.  Obesity can be a consequence of that condition, of course, and may contribute to your functional incapacity.

How does this dynamic work, exactly?

Suppose that you are morbidly obese, and that it has an impact on your ability to secure and maintain a job.  For example, you might be extremely fatigued most of the day due to your weight, and you might even be incapable of “fitting” into tight workspaces.  If you have training as a physical laborer, then morbid obesity could very well be the limiting factor preventing you from returning to work.

Now, if you were to submit a claim for SSDI benefits based solely on the functional impairments caused by your obesity, it would fail.  Instead, you’ll have to link your obesity to some other disabling condition.  For example, if you are suffering from a mental illness (i.e., severe depression) that is contributing to your overall disabled condition — and that has also led to obesity — then that could ostensibly qualify you for benefits.

Obesity Must Be Considered as a Factor Impacting the Claimant’s Functional Capacity

Though the SSA is not required to award benefits for obesity as the “primary disabling condition,” they must account for the impact of your obesity on your functional capacity to work.  If the SSA fails to take into consideration your obesity and its impact, then you can challenge their adverse decision on that basis.

If you are planning on submitting a claim for SSDI benefits, or if you have already submitted a claim and have had your claim rejected, it’s important that you consult a qualified disability benefits attorney for guidance on how to proceed.

Oftentimes, SSDI claimants are under the impression that being rejected for benefits is a final decision — in truth, however, the SSA denies the majority of initial submissions for SSDI benefits.  In many cases, the key to success is in challenging their adverse decision thoughtfully and persuasively, and with adequate supportive evidence.  Legal representation is absolutely critical to ensure that you are not only following proper procedure, but that you have all the necessary documentation — and a legally viable claim for benefits — to secure an award.