Obesity and Social Security


The causes of obesity range from simple bad habits and lack of exercise to hormone imbalances and emotional problems. The Social Security Administration (SSA) used to allow individuals to qualify for disability benefits based on morbid obesity alone. This is no longer the case. The relationship between obesity and Social Security disability benefits is now more complex. But, it is still possible to qualify. In this post, we break down the ways in which obesity can and cannot qualify for benefits.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a growing health concern among Americans. It affects more than 1/3 of American adults, and 17% of children and teenagers. The SSA uses a number known as the “Body Mass Index (BMI)” to determine whether a person is obese. This number is calculated using a formula that relates body height to weight. An individual in considered:

  • “healthy” if their BMI is in between 18 and 25
  • “overweight” if it is between 25  and 30
  • “obese” if their BMI is above 30
  • “morbidly obese” if their BMI is above 40.

You can calculate your BMI by clicking here.

Obesity and Social Security Disability Cases

It is still possible to qualify for benefits due to morbid obesity. However, most of the time, the SSA determines that obese individuals can still work and generate income. However, obesity often causes or contributes to other qualifying conditions. Some of these conditions include:

  • heart problems
  • breathing problems
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • arthritis

When combined with one or more of these issues, obesity may prevent a person from maintaining gainful employment. If this is the case, they may qualify for disability benefits.

If you or anyone you know is struggling to find or maintain a job due to obesity and its associated health issues, they may eligible for disability benefits. At Summit Disability Law Group, we are committed to helping qualified people get the help they need. Our disability attorneys can help at every step of the application process. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.