More than 42% of the U.S. population is obese, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doctor Writing Obesity on a Dry Erase BoardObesity has been recognized as a disease since 2013, and it can significantly impact a person’s daily life and life expectancy.

Not everyone who is diagnosed with obesity is eligible for Social Security disability. However, if you are considered medically obese and you are unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits.

When Obesity Becomes a Disability

Obesity used to have its own listing in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments, but that listing was removed in 1999. Now, people seeking disability benefits for obesity may qualify for benefits if they convince the Social Security Administration that one of the following is true:

They Have Another Condition That Qualifies Them for Disability Benefits

Some people are healthy and obese. However, obesity may increase the risk of developing other medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Most people who are obese and qualify for Social Security disability receive benefits because they have another health condition that qualifies for disability benefits.

These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that may cause nerve problems and organ damage that prevents a person from working.
  • Cardiovascular disease. People with high BMIs may be more likely to suffer coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, for example.
  • Respiratory issues. Asthma, sleep apnea, and obesity hypoventilation syndrome may interfere with a person’s ability to work and quality for disability benefits.
  • Cancer. Some cancers, including cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, ovaries, pancreas, prostate, rectum, and uterus are more likely in people who are obese.
  • Organ diseases. People who are obese may suffer from conditions such as gallbladder or liver disease.
  • Joint diseases. Osteoarthritis and other kinds of inflammatory conditions may coincide with obesity.
  • Mental health conditions. Obesity and the limitations that come with it may cause mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

A person may qualify for Social Security disability if they meet the eligibility requirements for any of these conditions.

Their Condition Is Equal in Severity to a Blue Book Listing or Prevents Them From Working

People whose only diagnosed condition is obesity may qualify for Social Security disability in some cases. These applicants need to prove that their condition is equal in severity to another impairment listing or keeps them from working. For example, they may present evidence that explains their:

  • Fatigue
  • Physical pain
  • Limited mobility

These things may limit their ability to carry things, stand, walk, or sit for extended lengths of time and, thereby, impact their ability to work.

How to Get Social Security Disability Benefits If You are Obese

You can only get Social Security disability benefits if you convince the Social Security Administration of your eligibility. This will require a complete and accurate Social Security disability application with supporting documentation. Accordingly, we encourage you to:

  • Keep a diary with your medical appointments, medications, and notes about the fatigue, pain, and other medical symptoms you experience each day. You may also note anything you could not do because of your health condition.
  • See your doctor and attend all follow-up appointments.
  • Contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

If you can’t work because of your medical condition, then now is the time to take action. You can begin the Social Security disability process by contacting an experienced Boston area Social Security disability lawyer for a free consultation.

Our disability attorneys represent people throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont who are seeking Social Security disability benefits. We can navigate the bureaucracy for you and make sure that you are treated fairly.

We know that you likely have a lot of questions. You can begin getting the answers you deserve right away by downloading a free copy of our report, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, and contacting us to schedule a free consultation.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer