Plus-Sized Controversy: Model Blasts Photos Altered To Make Her Look Thinner

Did you see this story this morning on the Today Show?

There are a lot of reasons why we struggle with weight.  It certainly doesn’t help that the fashion industry sends the wrong message leading to eating disorders in some and obesity in others.   Sometimes these conditions can be disabling.

Eating Disorders

Social Security does not have a specific listing for eating disorders.  However the introduction to the mental listing does provide the following guidance:

In cases involving anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, the primary manifestations may be mental or physical, depending upon the nature and extent of the disorder. When the primary functional limitation is physical; e.g., when severe weight loss and associated clinical findings are the chief cause of inability to work, we may evaluate the impairment under the appropriate physical body system listing. Of course, we must also consider any mental aspects of the impairment, unless we can make a fully favorable determination or decision based on the physical impairment(s) alone.


Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) at 30 or above.
The BMI is calculated with this formula: (Weight in pounds) divided by [(height in inches x (height in inches)] x 703. You can also use the calculator at

Obesity is no longer a listed impairment.  However, Social Security does recognize that it is a condition that can make other disease (cardiac, respiratory) or disorders (spinal cord, weight-bearing abnormalities) worse. Here are questions your attorney should ask you in order to evaluate whether you will be found disabled due to obesity.

  • What is your height?
  • What is your weight?
  • Have you had any prescribed treatment to reduce your weight?
  • Do you suffer from other diseases and disorders which are worsened due to your obesity?

Weight loss is very difficult to achieve and obesity is very difficult to treat. According to a study from the Annals of Internal Medicine weight loss is best achieved with significant medical intervention.

Before Social Security considers whether your failure to achieve weight loss precludes an award of benefits, the decision maker should consider whether you have been prescribed treatment and whether you are able to pay for that treatment.  But many times, this is not properly considered in the decision-making  process.

If you need more help with Social Security Disability, Call toll free at 1-800-481-0302.  Or just visit our website.