100 lb. Club - Obesity and Disability

View Full Version : Obesity and Disability

10-28-2004, 03:31 PM
After reading the two stories posted here, I started thinking about the fact that people can get social security disability (in the U.S.) for being morbidly obese. I believe the article about the woman on the couch said she was receiving disability--don't know if the guy who lost 400 lbs. prior to surgery was on disability, but I'm assuming that since he couldn't walk, he couldn't work.

The way disability works is that you have to have worked for so long to be entitled to benefits. Like the social security we (may) receive upon retiring, money is taken from our paychecks for this, although the amount of money we may get doesn't necessarily equal the amount of money we've paid in. Our children (hah! that's most of you guys in the eyes of someone my age) will be paying into the system to support us when we retire.
So, essentially it's your money, although you may get more out than you paid in if you're disabled for a long period of time.

I'm curious how people feel about this? Do you think that the taxes that you pay now should support someone who is morbidly obese if there is no medical reason that they became morbidly obese (i.e., some medical problem beyond their control that causes people to gain weight)?

10-28-2004, 03:45 PM
Would you deny benefits to someone who had a lung disease due to smoking? Or health problems due to alcoholism? Severe weight problems don't just happen due to laziness or ignorance, they ARE due to underlying psychological or addiction issues, and therefore DO qualify as "medical problems." Otherwise, why would insurance companies be willing to pay for obesity surgery?

10-28-2004, 03:47 PM
I happon to know that medicare will pay for by-pass surgery for the disabled who are 100 lbs or more over weight. It should be used as a last resort because it can have have unpleasent side effects.

10-28-2004, 05:39 PM
I started thinking about smoking-related diseases after I originally posted. Smoking is a lifestyle issue and a choice that people make, albeit usually one that's made when they're young and stupid and then the addiction sets in. Should we have to pay for the results of people's choices and lifestyle issues? What if a person is disabled from smoking or obesity and still continues to overeat and smoke while we're supporting them?

I always wonder why insurance companies and Medicare will pay for gastric bypass surgery once a person gets to the point of being disabled, yet they won't pay to help people avoid becoming disabled. Many insurance companies pay for smoking cessation programs, but not weight management programs.

10-28-2004, 05:47 PM
I usually don't post in this forum, but I feel like I have to chime in. I'm an attorney who practices Social Security Disability Law. Disabilty benefits are not granted for obesity alone. The claimant has to have other conditions that are considered severe, and obestity can be considered as a factor that makes that condition or conditions worse.

Further, for 97% of claimants, the application process is long (upwards of 2.5 years) and often humiliating. Many Administrative Law Judges are skeptical to say the least.

Granted, there are bad apples out there, but the majority of people who come thorugh my office would rather be working.

On a side comment that Funniegirl brought up, legally, someone who disabled soley due to alcholism or drug addiction is not entitled to disability benefits. It's an entirely different story if you are sick and unable to work and then become an alcoholic because you're depressed. Yeah, I know, everyone knows someone who's a crack head and on SSDIB. My response is appearances can be decieving and you have to walk a mile...


10-28-2004, 09:57 PM
That's interesting, Snuggy. Thanks for sharing. And you're right about appearances being deceiving.

Personally, I don't have any problem with either group seeking benefits, but I think it's a thought-provoking question that goes along with the discussion of personal responsibility that someone brought up on another thread.

Frankly, though, I am, um, envious, I guess I would say. I applied two years ago because I have a rare neurological condition, and I was denied. The process is SO arduous, and I couldn't face appealing so I let it slide (how does a crackhead make it through the application process? :)). Like the people you know, I'd much rather be working, but when my neurologist told me to apply again (because he said there was no way I can work now or, depressingly, in the foreseeable future), I decided to go for it. I know it's going to be a struggle, mainly because I don't have one of the usual conditions that the SSD doctors see. But I have to trust that the people who make the decisions will be, ultimately, fair.

10-29-2004, 01:46 PM
I don't know much about the social services systems but it seems to me that there is a big difference between someone unable to work because of a medical condition that will not get any better or someone who is morbidly obese. We have seen proof that people who are 400 or 500 lbs or more can lose weight. What I would like to know is if once these people are on disability if a case manager or someone is getting them help to lose weight so that eventually they will be able to get off disability and get back to work.

10-29-2004, 03:09 PM
Some of you I've known a long time and you may not know or realize how conservative I am. But since the question was asked on my thoughts - I want to give them. but be warned..

I am against federal gov't assistance - in all forms. No exceptions. I am also against social security. It is not the gov't's job to teach me to save my own money.

I know what you are going say.. what about those disabled people that can't work? I believe those people should be helped out my their church- not their gov't. One of the many reasons I believe this is because our (US and Canada) gov't are terrible wasters. For every $1 I give them only about 25 cents goes to the cause the program was created for. With religious organizations (including my church) 100% of what I give helps out not only the members of my church but also the members of my community.

My husband would be more then happy to give up any money he has "saved" in social security to no longer pay into it. I can make more money by putting in a general savings account. The gov't can't say that. Our money that was given into "our" fund went to pay for my father in law's last social security cheque.

As for smokers, drug users, over eaters (like ourselves) we all know what we are doing to our bodies... sure, it's hard not to stay away from the foods we love. But is our gov't responsible for our lack of self control?


10-29-2004, 09:44 PM
I agree with you on some points Dana. However the church does not work like it is supposed to. So many churches are so far in debt paying for there large buildings that they can not do what they should be doing. My church included. Which would not be a problem if people tithed like they should which most don't. So I don't see the church being able to take on that kind of load. If it worked like it was meant to then I would tend to agree with you. I don't think it's ever going to work like that though. I love my Church but it is run by man and man tends to mess things up. So yes in a prefect world I would agree totally with you but we are far from perfect.

I do agree with you that we should be in charge of our retirement money. I'm sure most of us could do much better than our goverment does.

Now on the original question. Based only on being over weight no I don't think you should get SSDIB. All though I think it's a fine line to know how someones weight gain was caused. However as Snugasapug said they don't give it for only that reason anyway.

10-30-2004, 12:47 AM
first - I love your new picture!! It's great!!

I hear what you are saying about "big" churches. It took my dh and I months to find one that we agreed with on all levels. We did lots of "church shopping". People do tithe - probably not all. The deacons do a wonderful job.
Here is a link to my church - pretty simple :) - just like me. http://www.nhopc.com/


10-30-2004, 01:02 AM
Thanks Dana we took that last night while handing out candy at our friends house. As you see I sampled some of the goodies. Your church looks nice. I have serously been thinking about looking for a different church but I'm just not sure yet.

10-30-2004, 03:49 PM
Dana, it might work if you had a good church, but like Howie implied, I don't think many churches would be up to handling all social services themselves. In addition, that idea assumes that everyone has a church to go to and wants a church to go to. If one were not a religious person, where would they be left? I'm not sure they would be comfortable accepting things from a church that doesn't share their beliefs. I would, however, be all in favour of seeing the government be less wasteful with money (I know I've been upset with many of the spending practices and bad decisions by our Liberal government in their recent terms).

Back to the original topic, I'm not sure if I think that obesity should sometimes be considered a disability. However, I would like to see that obesity was given a bit more respect - what I mean is, it would be nice if more people understood that it is a real 'issue' that a lot of us have to work hard to get through (sometimes we're dealing with certain emotional issues, or over-eating disorders etc.), and it's not always just 'lack of will power' that's causing the problem.

10-30-2004, 04:18 PM
Well said Lekker

10-30-2004, 04:55 PM
i agree,.. Some people just arent religious and some churches are just corrupt as some of the govermental practices.

I'm not sure about the SS stuff. I guess it depends on the case really. I have had people inthe past tell me "you could get disability because you are so overweight. it would help you with all your bills" it always offended me in a way. I know that my weight hinders most everything I do, but I do not want to be considered disabled because I am fat. its not like I cant lose weight? (although it is really hard) Plus, I have heard how demeaning and virtually impossible it is to go through everything you have to do to even get approved for the benefits. My mom told me that nobody gets accepted on the first try. That seems harsh,.. what if you were really disabled and needed that money? Also I heard on the radio the other night that the reason age 65 was chosen for social security, was at the time, the life expectancy was 63 and they didnt anticipate alot of people that would have to file for it. A bit morbid eh?