Obesity is a condition characterized by the accumulation of excessive body fat. It is generally defined as having a Body Mass Index in excess of 30%. There are many potential causes for obesity, ranging from genetic problems, diet, mental conditions and emotional problems. Often, obesity is caused by a combination of such issues. Some classify obesity as a disease, but it is more often categorized as a medical condition.
Obesity can have wide ranging effects on a person’s ability to work, affecting nearly every physical activity engaged in. It can also have significant emotional and mental impact on a person, often being a contributing factor in depression and other mental conditions and illnesses.
Obesity was removed from the SSA list of disabling conditions (Blue Book) in 1999. This essentially means that there are no objective, measurable standards by which the SSA can determine that you are disabled as a direct result of your disability. Social Security Disability benefits are not granted simply because of obesity.
Obesity’s Effect on Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
However, this does not mean that claimants can’t receive Social Security Disability benefits due to obesity. It simply means that you must have other debilitating conditions which are the result of or reason for your obesity.
In many cases, obese persons are unable to perform many of the tasks required for physical work due to strain on their body as a result of the obesity. This strain can involve mobility issues as well as difficulty standing, sitting, bending, or lifting.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to show (through your doctor’s reports and your own testimony) that you are unable to perform any significant physical work. This will involve proving that you cannot stand for long periods, sit for long periods, or lift significant amounts of weight.
Getting approval for a Social Security Disability claim based on obesity can present an uphill climb. In addition to the fact that obesity is not recognized as a disabling condition in and of itself, you face the fact that many believe that the effects of obesity are the direct result of behaviors which can be easily changed. While this may be the case in some instances, it’s certainly not true across the board.
Your best bet for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits for obesity is to find a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer to represent you. Because they will know what the SSA is currently looking for in obesity claims, but they will also be able to help set up your claim and (if needed) your appeals in a way which will give you the best chance of acceptance.
Obesity’s Effect on Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
Sedentary work doesn’t generally require much physical labor. By definition, sedentary work involves sitting down to work. In some cases, it requires some degree of manual coordination (ability to use your hands), and in other cases, it requires some specialized skills or the ability to work well with people.
Many sedentary jobs are reserved for those with specialized or advanced education. If the SSA feels that your level of education and training qualifies you for such jobs, you are likely to be disqualified for Social Security Disability benefits unless you can prove that other factors preclude you from performing even sedentary work. Older applicants (50 and over) tend to have less trouble proving that they are incapable of being trained to do sedentary work than younger applicants.
Obesity does not generally have a direct adverse effect on a person’s ability to perform sedentary work. However, many of the side effects of obesity, including the inability to sit for long periods and obesity induced depression, may very well preclude you from performing sedentary work.