SSA Issues New Regulations for Evaluating Obesity

social security obesity disabilityRecently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued ruling SSR 19-2p on Evaluating Cases Involving Obesity. Social Security will apply the ruling to all new applications, and any claims pending, on or after May 20, 2019.

SSR 19-2p explains and establishes obesity as a stand-alone, medically determinable impairment that can cause disability. The regulation outlines that impairment must be based on “measured height and weight, measured waist size, and BMI measurements over time.” Specifically, a BMI of 30 or higher, or “a waist size greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men” will generally establish an impairment of obesity. However, the ruling emphasizes that an impairment of obesity requires the person’s weight, measured waist size, or BMI to show “a consistent pattern of obesity,” meaning there must a be a longstanding history of obesity documented in the claimant’s medical records.

This important ruling now allows a claimant’s obesity to be a stand-alone impairment, whereas in the past, obesity would factor in only as an enhancement to another impairment, for example arthritis or cardiac injuries. It is important to note that the impairment of obesity must limit a claimant’s ability to do basic work functions. For a finding of disability based on obesity, a claimant’s obesity must prevent them from sustaining gainful activity.

With the ever-changing legal landscape, it is crucial that you have an experienced, qualified, and hard-working attorney on your side when applying for disability benefits. If you are hurt, injured, or unable to work, contact Bailey & Galyen for a free social security disability evaluation.