SSA issues SSR 19-2p: evaluating cases involving obesity
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Monday, June 17, 2019

SSA issues SSR 19-2p: evaluating cases involving obesity

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

Social Security Ruling (SSR) 19-2p provides guidance on how the SSA establishes that a person has a medically determinable impairment (MDI) of obesity and how the agency evaluates obesity in disability claims under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. SSR 19-2p applies beginning on May 20, 2019. It rescinds and replaces SSR 02-1p; Titles II and XVI: Evaluation of Obesity.

Guidance provided. Obesity, when established by objective medical evidence (signs, laboratory findings, or both) from an acceptable medical source (AMS), is an MDI. The SSA is providing guidance in its SSR on how it establishes that a person has an MDI of obesity, and how it evaluates obesity in disability claims. People with obesity have a higher risk for other impairments, and the effects of obesity combined with other impairments can be greater than the effects of each of the impairments considered separately. Obesity is not a listed impairment; however, the functional limitations caused by the MDI of obesity, either alone or in combination with another impairment(s), may medically equal a listing. Obesity in combination with another impairment(s) may or may not increase the severity or functional limitations of the other impairment(s). The agency evaluates each case based on the information in the case record.

On September 12, 2002, the SSA published SSR 02-1p (67 Fed. Reg. 57859) to provide guidance on the evaluation of obesity in disability claims. Since then, it has published several final rules that revise some of the criteria it uses to evaluate disability claims. The SSA is issuing the SSR to reflect the changes to the rules it has published, as well as any advances in medical knowledge, since publication of SSR 02-1p.

Evaluation of obesity claims. SSR 19-2p is in a “Q&A” format that provides guidance on how the SSA establishes that a person has an MDI of obesity and how it evaluates obesity in disability claims. Questions 1 and 2 provide basic background information about obesity and impairments associated with obesity. Questions 3 and 4 discuss how the agency establishes obesity as an MDI and how it determines if it is a severe MDI. Questions 5 and 6 specify how the SSA evaluates obesity under the Listing of Impairments and how it considers obesity when assessing a person's residual functional capacity.

For further information. For additional information, contact Cheryl A. Williams, Office of Disability Policy, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, (410) 965-1020. See 84 Fed. Reg. 22924, May 20, 2019.

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