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Obesity and other disabling conditions often go hand in hand

Millions of Americans fight to maintain a healthy weight and a large percentage are losing the proverbial battle against the bulge. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 69 percent of U.S. adults age 20 and older were considered overweight. What's more, 35.1 percent were considered to be obese.

Prior to 1999, the Social Security Administration included obesity in its qualifying listing of impairments for disability benefits. The decision to delete obesity from this list effectively prevents individuals from qualifying for Social Security disability benefits solely on the basis of being medically classified as obese. However, people who are obese are at an increased risk of developing several other health problems that may result in an individual becoming disabled and unable to work.

Obesity has been linked to numerous chronic diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal conditions. From heart disease to breast cancer to severe back pain; an individual who has a body mass index of 30.0 or higher is considered obese and is also at an increased risk of developing adverse health problems which may effectively qualify an individual to receive SSDI benefits.

In addition to diseases and physical ailments, obesity can also negatively affect an individual's mental health. For example, according to the American Psychological Association, one study determined that obese women are 37 percent more likely to also be diagnosed with major depression. Additionally, a study of obese people who admitted to engaging in binge eating activities "found that 51 percent also had a history of major depression."

Individuals, who are obese and unable to work due to an underlying or recently developed health condition or problem, may choose to apply for SSDI benefits. In many cases, an individual's application for disability benefits is initially denied. It's wise, therefore to consult with an attorney who can help ensure an individual provides sufficient and compelling evidence in his or her SSDI application.

Source: Social Security.gov, "Evaluation of Obesity," 2014

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