You can get Social Security benefits for being fat. Is that true?

Question:  Somebody told me that you can get Social Security benefits for being fat.  Is that true?

Answer:  It is true that weight can be a factor in proving a Social Security Disability claim and/ or an SSI claim for benefits.  Social Security law rather recently has been changed regarding obesity.  Previously, there used to be a standard called Listing 9.09.  However, even Listing 9.09 required that the person have obesity plus some other related problem.  When Listing 9.09 was removed many people in the Social Security Administration seemed to have the idea that obesity was no longer an important factor in proving disability.  The Social Security Administration issued a ruling that basically said that obesity was to be considered as a possible aggravating factor that might result in a person being found disabled who otherwise would not be found disabled without the obesity.

I think it is best to provide a real-world example.  A person has a problem with his lower back.  This person has degenerative disc disease in his back.  The degenerative disc disease is not too significant.  However, his obesity causes more pressure on his low back.  This additional pressure on his low back can make a mild to moderate back condition be determined to be a disabling condition.  In addition to obesity being a possible important factor in a Social Security Disability claim and/ or SSI claim a significant change in weight can be almost as important.  In a typical hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge one of the first questions you will be asked about is any change in your weight.  A significant change of weight can show several different types of problems.  For example, in the case of Crohn’s disease, a significant reduction in weight is a very important factor to prove the degree of the condition.  For an additional example, a person who has severe depression may eat uncontrollably or not eat at all.  Also, certain medications can cause weight gain.

In short to answer your question, a person can get his or her Social Security Disability and/ or SSI benefits based insignificant part on obesity.