Is Obesity a disability for purposes of Social Security?

Obesity is a growing epidemic in this country and more and more individuals are complaining about discrimination because of their weight, but can obesity be a disabling condition?

Obesity is not included on the Listing of Impairments and is not likely to meet the criteria to meet a listed impairment on its own. That said, obesity can be a disabling condition on its own (albeit rarely), but more often than not contributes to disability because of its affects on bodily systems and its complication of other disorders and conditions.

Obesity affects a number of bodily systems causing cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and joint problems. While an individual may have a cardiovascular or respiratory condition that alone is not disabling, coupling that condition with obesity and its side effects may be sufficient to meet the necessary criteria of disabled. Administrative Law Judges much consider the effects of obesity in their evaluation of a claimant’s application for benefits.



 Obesity is a medically determinable impairment according to the Social Security Administration. It may cause residual functional capacity restrictions affecting exertional and postural functions such as sitting, standing, and walking. Obesity can also be connected to depression and fatigue, sometimes caused by obstructive sleep apnea which limits the amount of oxygen getting to the brain during sleep.

Any claimant alleging disability who also suffers from obesity should not overlook the effects their weight has on their conditions and their residual functional capacity.

Attorney Allen is an associate attorney of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c. If you have questions regarding social security disability benefits, please feel free to contact her at: [email protected]


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