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AMA Declares That Obesity Is a Disability


Posted on Jul 22, 2013

Karen was working as a Boston bartender while going to school. She was young, pretty and had a great figure. Customers loved to visit the bar and flirt with her. Then Karen suffered the loss of a close family member. She was overwhelmed by emotions and was prescribed a medication for anxiety. She put on 70 pounds. Soon Karen noticed she was being assigned fewer and fewer shifts. Her employer hired two more bartenders. They were young, cute and thin. A month later, Karen was fired because they had too many people for the job, but she believes that the real issue was her weight.

In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) elevated obesity from a condition to a disease, making obesity a disability—at least in the eyes of doctors. Although a declaration from the AMA has no legal authority, courts are likely to recognize the nation’s largest professional organization for healthcare providers as an authority on the subject. This means that people like Karen who suffer discrimination based on their weight may be afforded may be afforded legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with a body mass index of 30 or over will be able to request reasonable accommodation such as larger chairs or parking near their place of employment. Employees will also be protected from losing their job, based on their weight.

What does this mean for New England SSDI and SSI applicants? Nothing. Congress must approve any changes to the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability benefits. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits an applicant must have a serious disability that is expected to last for a year or longer.

Any questions? Contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847 if you need a more detailed explanation of any of our news reports, when you are considering applying for disability benefits. or when an article we provide touches close to home for your circumstances.

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John L. Keefe
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