NEW GUIDELINES AS OF May 20, 2019
Social Security considers obesity to be a chronic disease.
While obesity was in the past a “listed impairment” (an impairment that is automatically considered disabling), under current law, obesity is no longer a listed impairment; it is seen as a risk factor that may make other impairments, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and the like, more disabling.
Obese adults are those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and over. Morbidly obese adults have a BMI of 40 or more. (Overweight adults have a BMI of 25-29.9.) To establish a diagnosis of obesity, the Social Security Administration will generally rely on your treating or an examining doctor.
An “obese” individual may have limitations in such activities as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. Obesity can also affect climbing, balance, stooping, and crouching. Obesity is also associated with some cancers and may cause or contribute to mental impairments such as depression.
Social Security will consider the limiting effects of obesity when assessing a person’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) and limitations in ability to work. RFC is the most an adult can do despite his or her limitation(s).
Someone who has obesity and another condition, such as arthritis affecting a weight-bearing joint, may have more pain and limitations than the person would have due to the arthritis alone. The Social Security Administration will consider all work-related physical and mental limitations, whether due to a person’s obesity, other impairment(s), or combination of impairments.
As with any other medical condition, the Social Security Administration will find that obesity is a “severe” and disabling impairment when alone or in combination with another physical or mental impairments, it significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities.
Your social security representative should factor obesity as a significant disability factor when presenting your case to the Social Security Administration Law Judge.