The Social Security Administration publishes a book that contains a list of impairments, and if you meet the criteria for one of the listed impairments, you are automatically approved for disability benefits. Prior to 2000, people who were morbidly obese could be considered disabled under Social Security just because they were morbidly obese. However, many obese individuals are able to lead productive lives and hold gainful employment. Being obese does not necessarily mean a person is unable to work or that a person is disabled.
Today, you can still be awarded disability benefits for obesity, but the SSA, as with any other medical condition, will find that obesity is a “severe” impairment when, alone or in combination with another medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s), it significantly limits an individual’s physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. (For children applying for disability, the SSA will find that obesity is a “severe” impairment when it causes more than minimal functional limitations.) The SSA will also consider the effects of any symptoms (such as pain or fatigue) that could limit functioning. The SSA will find that an impairment(s) is “not severe” only if it is a slight abnormality (or a combination of slight abnormalities) that has no more than a minimal effect on the individual’s ability to do basic work activities (or, for a child, if it causes no more than minimal functional limitations).
If you are having trouble working due to your weight, you need to talk to your doctor. In order to apply for Social Security disability, your doctor needs to state in writing that you are unable to work and explain why. If you are considering applying for disability, you should also seek the advice of an experienced Social Security attorney to evaluate your case and assist you though the process.