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Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits If I’m Obese?


When it comes to both adult and childhood obesity, Indiana ranks in the top 15 in the nation.

Obese workers are twice as likely to be injured on the job. They miss an average of thirteen times more days per year than their co-workers. They face annual medical expenses $1,429 higher on average than a person of “normal” body weight.

If you’re morbidly obese—with all these factors in play—you may ask, “Can I qualify for disability benefits?” The answer to that depends on several variables.

Obesity By Itself


Simply put, you can’t qualify for Social Security disability benefits just because you’ve been diagnosed as obese.

But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule. If you fall under certain circumstances, you can be eligible to receive disability benefits.

An example of one of these circumstances would be if your Body Mass Index (BMI) got so high (an “obese” BMI is considered anything higher than 30, with “morbidly obese” falling anywhere from 35 to 40) that you became unable to move, walk, or complete everyday tasks. In this case, you may be able to prove that your condition keeps you from working.

While there’s no precise listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing of impairments for obesity—and therefore no way to qualify for benefits outright—you can still qualify if you can prove a prior medical condition caused the obesity. Such conditions as mental illnesses—like depression or anxiety—thyroid issues, and other endocrine disorders fall under these listings.

Obesity Plus Complications


Obesity, and especially morbid obesity, can contribute to further health complications.

In Indiana, there’s a strong link between the rise in obesity and the rise in hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

Even beyond that, obesity can lead to stroke, coronary artery disease, degenerative arthritis, and a plethora of other issues. If you have health issues stemming from obesity, or have severe enough complications that the severity alone matches other listed conditions, you can qualify for benefits that way.

Functional Reports


When we talk about the burden of proving the origin and extent of your obesity falling on you, a functional report is what we mean.

What is a functional report? In short, it’s an evaluation of your emotional, physical, or mental limitations due to obesity.

In order to give yourself the best chance to qualify for benefits, you must be thorough. Go into detail showing how your obesity (and related complications, if that’s applicable) limit daily activities.

Be sure to clarify how obesity keeps you from:

  • Dressing, grooming, or bathing yourself
  • Preparing or shopping for food
  • Looking after those in your care (such as children or pets)

It’s also important to prove that your condition:

  • Is expected to last at least 12 months
  • Isn’t improving (or isn’t improving enough) even though you’re following your doctor’s treatment plan

Although obesity is affected by lifestyle choices, you may follow all of your doctor’s orders and still not improve enough to return to work. If that’s the case, you may qualify for disability benefits.

Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer

Obesity can be debilitating enough on its own. If you find your daily life limited, or even halted altogether, due to your weight, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim. Our Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyers are here to help.