Disability Benefits

Is Obesity A Covered Benefit For Disability?

Questions: Is Obesity A Covered Benefit; Are Disability Benefits Taxable?

Anyone who's thinking about applying for federal disability benefits will have lots of questions. In this article we'll try to give you some information regarding two of the most frequently asked questions regarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Please be aware that this article contains our opinions only, shouldn't be construed as legal advice, and you may want to contact a professional such as a lawyer specializing in disability claims.

Is Obesity a Covered Benefit for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The short answer to this question is no. Obesity is not listed on the List of Impairments that the disability examiners use to determine whether or not an illness or injury qualifies as a disability. However, the listings only cover the most frequently occuring conditions. Impairments that are not on the list but still match the criteria of a listing can qualify.

When it comes to Social Security benefits and obesity, obesity on its own is probably not going to match a listed impairment. However, obesity combined with a different impairment may equal the level of impairment of a condition that is listed. A person may have a breathing or cardiovascular disorder that is not thought to be severe enough on its own to qualify as a disability. However, when that disorder is combined with obesity, the severity could be such that the claim is approved. Then again, the examiner may conclude that the level of obesity could be reduced through easy lifestyle changes, making the other impairment less severe. Also, if the individual has experience at sedentary jobs, they may not be considered disabled even if their obesity impairs their physical capacity for work. So it would be handled on a case by case basis, and a person considering a claim which partially relies on obesity as a contributor to disability may want to consult a specialist disability lawyer.

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?

Individuals receiving any type of Social Security benefits based on their work record and credits in the system, including SSDI disability payments, need to pay taxes if they have considerable additional income. If what's called your 'combined income' - which on your tax return is your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest income plus one half of your Social Security payments falls between $25,000 and $34,000, you will owe taxes on half of your Social Security income. If your combined income is over $34,000, then eighty-five percent of your Social Security benefits will be taxable. For people filing a joint tax return the level where they will owe taxes on half of their benefits goes up to between $32,000 and $44,000, and as you might expect, the eighty-five percent taxable level kicks in at over $44,000.

Most people who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits would not have enough income to be required to pay income taxes anyway, but regardless, SSI payments are not taxable disability benefits.