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Does Obesity Qualify Me For Social Security Disability?

A growing number of Americans suffer from obesity, and in some cases, they may be unable to continue working. The Social Security Administration no longer includes obesity in its listings of disabling conditions, but it’s certainly still possible to obtain disability benefits if you are obese and unable to work as a result of that or other conditions.

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In many cases, obesity may be one of several disabling conditions, or it may make another condition worse to the point that it becomes disabling. Obesity can be medically equivalent to a listed impairment; for example, if obesity severely restricts movement, it may be medically equivalent to major dysfunction of a joint. Or you may be found disabled due to a medical vocational allowance, meaning that your disability prevents you from working despite not being listed by the SSA. You’ll have to complete an assessment of your residual functional capacity, which is your chance to explain how your condition(s) make you unable to work.

Some of the health issues that commonly arise with obesity include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Back problems
  3. Type 2 diabetes (and its ensuing complications)
  4. Depression
  5. Sleep apnea
  6. Stroke
  7. Endocrine disorders
  8. Circulatory problems

It’s important to know you should not be denied for failure to follow treatment. Most obesity treatments have a limited success rate, and surgery is considered too risky to be a standard treatment. A doctor can help by explaining what effect a certain obesity treatment is expected to have.

Improving Your Chances for Obtaining Benefits

Because obesity is sometimes (rightly or wrongly) regarded as a preventable disease, it’s especially important for you to:

  1. Keep a detailed medical history, including a calendar of notes about how you feel each day.
  2. Record any of your usual activities you could not do on any given day.
  3. Keep a detailed history of your current and past medications.
  4. See a doctor regularly and take the medication that he/she gives you so that your doctor can support your application for benefits.
  5. Ask your doctor or other health care professional to track the course of your symptoms and to keep a record of any evidence of fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, dizziness, or other hard-to-document symptoms.
  6. Keep records of how your illness affected you on the job.
  7. Keep records of your efforts to lose weight and the problems you faced in losing and/or maintaining your weight.

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