How Obesity Can Qualify You for Social Security Disability

By November 10, 2021 No Comments

Obesity can potentially limit an individual’s day-to-day activities and bring additional complications to a range of other physical and mental conditions. If an applicant’s obesity prevents them from performing full-time work, they may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines obesity as a chronic disease marked by an excess of body fat and usually caused in conjunction with a combination of other factors, including genetic, behavioral, and environmental.

Using BMI To Help With Applications

Understanding the applicant’s Body Mass Index (BMI) helps when applying for disability. Those with Level I obesity have a BMI of 30 to 34.9. Level II obesity includes BMIs of 35 to 39.9. A BMI of 40 or more indicates Level III obesity, the most severe category. As one of many ways, doctors diagnose obesity using the BMI scale or by measuring a person’s waist size or weight.

Those applying for disability benefits should mention all their medical conditions, including obesity. Even if the applicant’s doctor has not formally diagnosed them with obesity, they should include it on their SSDI or SSI application if they believe their weight interferes with their potential to work.

While a person can no longer “meet” a disability listing for obesity, it is still possible (though rare) to “equal” a listing. For this to happen, an applicant’s obesity must be equal in severity to a listed impairment. Obesity may also help satisfy listing requirements that call for impairments in addition to the primary medical condition.


Obesity can amplify other conditions that could qualify an applicant for disability, so it’s important to discuss options with a knowledgeable Social Security claims attorney to best understand potential paths to approval. Clients in Eugene and Albany trust Drew L. Johnson, P.C. with these needs. Call (541) 434-6466 to learn more.