While Social Security has always considered obesity as a potentially severe and disabling impairment, recent District Court decisions as well as decisions by the Appeals Council have taken issue with Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) who do not identify functional limitations a claimant may have as a result of being overweight.
Accordingly, it has been found that an ALJ erred by failing to consider medical evidence or question a vocational expert to determine how a claimant’s ability to work was affected by her obesity.
In some cases, being severely overweight may affect a person’ heart and lung function, and in most cases when arthritis is involved, weight bearing joints are affected. This constitutes the basis for additional impairments which must be considered when a decision about disability is being made.
The final analysis is that while obesity has always been mentioned as the basis for an automatic case, decision makers now must concentrate on looking past listing level impairment and considering “any additional cumulative” effects of obesity aside from determining whether an individual meets or equals a listed impairment.
If being overweight has complicated medical problems for you which already exist, make sure that when you are describing your difficulties to government adjudicators that you describe how exertional, postural and even social functioning is affected by your condition.
If you have specific questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org