Should morbid obesity be a qualifier for Disability?

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
54,397
41,259
Ohio
#1
I have a cousin who is struggling with obesity. Big time. It's wrecking her joints (every pound of excess weight adds four pounds of stress to your joints), she's borderline diabetic, has high blood pressure and there is a history heart problems on both her parents side of her family. Her brother died suddenly in his mid 40's when his enlarged heart (which he didn't know he had) exploded. He was overweight, but not what I would call obese.

She's about 5'4" and easily over 300 pounds, although I've never asked because she's very sensitive about it. She struggles to walk and runs out of breath with very little effort. She told me her BMI is very high, too. I asked her if she's considered a lap band and surprisingly, she didn't even know what that was until I mentioned surgery, which she quickly replied "NO. No surgery."

Her doctor finally laid down the law to her over the issues with her joints and told her her problem is her weight. For 6 years she's been in denial about this, blaming her job for having to be on her feet too much, an "exploded tendon" in her foot and then finally arthritis, but she's never seemed to embrace the idea that her weight is causing this. The doctor wrote her an order for a walker and she spent $5,000 on a Jacuzzi tub which after installed, she couldn't even fit in (it's 32") so she has upgraded to a bigger one which hasn't been installed yet, but it will cost even more money. She insists she can lose the weight with the proper diet, which I am sure is true, but I don't think at her point will power alone will be enough and the longer it takes I feel the damage to her joints will continue and be permanent and she might not be able to walk in another year.

So she is retired, but I see a lot of younger people at Walmart who are morbidly obese and I started wondering if this qualifies as a disability for the purpose of getting benefits.

I think of morbid obesity in much the same way as addiction, smoking or alcoholism, but I don't think being a drug addict qualifies you for benefits unless you have done serious damage to your body that renders you unable to work. From what I've read, it's the same way with obesity, once you develop morbidity issues, those can qualify you for benefits.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Should doctors have to insure a morbidly obese patient is taking adequate measures to insure someone is adhering to a weight loss program if they're going to classify the patient as disabled?
 
Likes: 4 people
Jan 2015
48,468
13,872
Great State of Texas
#2
I would say yes.

That kind of morbid obesity is usually caused by mental disorders.

There is disability for mental disorders.

It should include that level of morbid disability.
 

Wonderer

Council Hall
May 2014
29,357
19,728
Missouri
#3
Interesting topic. As someone who's struggling with my weight at present (though not morbid obesity), I've been taking more note lately of obesity's prevalence. There's no question it carries with it a whole host of related health issues. Should it, in and of itself, qualify one for disability? I'm not sure -- will have to think about it. In theory, it's something that can be "fixed" or, at least, improved (unlike, say, an amputated limb, or a disease like MS or ALS.) Hmm. Pondering.
 
Likes: 4 people
Mar 2012
56,423
37,983
New Hampshire
#4
It is interesting. Most obese people I know have some underlying reason for it, depression, food addiction, grief etc. So in those cases, I would say its likely part of a mental health issue. However, it becomes cloudy if we know that the 10 year old next door is morbidly obese because he eats sweets all day and plays video games non stop. Then is it the parents fault or his own? I hate fat shaming of any sort because even someone just 40 pounds overweight is acutely aware of it and the problems it plays. But either finding the time or money to lose the weight isnt always easy. Few rich people are morbidly obese and there is a reason for that.
 
Likes: 3 people
Jan 2007
36,322
8,166
#5
Perhaps qualification for disability requires having the surgery to tie off the stomach. That often forces the weight reduction. Just handing out the money doesn't motivate anyone to do anything to remedy their problem. THe surgery would likely cost a fraction of what long term health issues will cost to treat.
 
Jan 2015
48,468
13,872
Great State of Texas
#6
Perhaps qualification for disability requires having the surgery to tie off the stomach. That often forces the weight reduction. Just handing out the money doesn't motivate anyone to do anything to remedy their problem. THe surgery would likely cost a fraction of what long term health issues will cost to treat.
Many people who have the surgery regain the weight over time.

Because, this is more of a mental issue than physical.

Like alcoholism ..... it's an addiction and must be treated as so.
 
Likes: 1 person
Jul 2014
37,532
9,863
midwest
#7
Most obese people are at fault for their condition.

They love to eat more than they want to live healthy.

I know a lady, about 400 lbs, who can barely walk, and when asked about losing the weight, she admits that she loves food too much to change.

It's her choice, but it's a temporary problem.

Eat...get fat...die...problem solved.
 
Mar 2012
56,423
37,983
New Hampshire
#8
Perhaps qualification for disability requires having the surgery to tie off the stomach. That often forces the weight reduction. Just handing out the money doesn't motivate anyone to do anything to remedy their problem. THe surgery would likely cost a fraction of what long term health issues will cost to treat.
Most people regain the weight back almost immediately. Underlying issues at play.

https://www.healthline.com/health-n...e-weight-gain-after-honeymoon-period-080515#2
 
Likes: 2 people
Jan 2015
48,468
13,872
Great State of Texas
#9
Most obese people are at fault for their condition.

They love to eat more than they want to live healthy.

I know a lady, about 400 lbs, who can barely walk, and when asked about losing the weight, she admits that she loves food too much to change.

It's her choice, but it's a temporary problem.

Eat...get fat...die...problem solved.
It's a little more complicated than that.
 
Jul 2014
38,922
33,910
Border Fence
#10
One condition exacerbates the other.

It is not like her obesity causes conditions A, B and C any more than A,B, and C caused her obesity.

Fixing her obesity may not fix her disabilities. I see a lot of skinny people at my cardiologist's office.
 
Likes: 2 people