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Obesity and its effect on SSD benefits claims

Readers of this blog know that there are a number of medical conditions that may qualify them for Social Security disability benefits. Physical, emotional, and mental conditions may all fall under "disability" as defined by the Social Security Administration. Yet, there are some health issues that do not directly fall under disability, but they may contribute to other medical conditions that do qualify as a disability. For example, one of our previous posts discussed substance abuse and how, if it creates a disabling condition, then an individual may recover benefits under that specific disability.

Another example of an aggravating condition is obesity. Although not recognized as a disability on its own, being overweight can contribute to certain musculoskeletal problems. Therefore, when a claims adjudicator considers a claim for a musculoskeletal disability, he or she must also consider any other effect, or cumulative effects, the obesity has on a claimant. So those who suffer from spine disorders, fractured bones, and major joint problems may be able to utilize their obesity to strengthen their claim.

However, as with any Social Security disability claim, an obese individual still needs to meet the requirements for an acceptable disability. Those who suffer from dysfunction of a joint, for example, still need to show that they suffer chronic pain and stiffness that render them unable to work. Medical documentation must be provided that evidences the disability, and certain work history must be met, too.

When a claim is in jeopardy of being denied, an individual may want to seek legal help. A skilled legal advocate may be able to help a disabled individual utilize other tactics, such as evidence of obesity, to strengthen one's claim. By obtaining this assistance, these individuals can ensure that their claim is fully prepared and has the best possible chance of success given the unique set of facts surrounding it.

Source: Social Security Administration, "1.00 Musculoskeletal System - Adult," accessed on Nov. 27, 2016

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