Weight Loss

How to Get Disability Benefits for Weight Loss by Meeting a Listing

To determine whether you are disabled at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process, the Social Security Administration will consider whether your weight loss is severe enough to meet or equal the weight loss listing. The Social Security Administration has developed rules called Listing of Impairments for most common impairments. The listing for a particular impairment describes a degree of severity that Social Security Administration presumes would prevent a person from performing substantial work. If your weight loss is severe enough to meet or equal the listing, you will be considered disabled.

The listing for Weight Loss is listing 5.08. To satisfy the listing, you must have weight loss due to any digestive disorder, despite continuing treatment as prescribed, with BMI of less than 17.50 calculated on at least two evaluations at least 60 days apart within a consecutive 6-month period.

Meeting Social Security Administration Listing 5.08 for Weight Loss

The body mass index (BMI) compares an individual’s weight to body surface area. It is generally held that a BMI below 18.5 kilograms/meter2 is underweight. This value is, of course, arbitrary. However, most of the clinical medical interest in BMI is in regard to obesity, which is at epidemic levels in the U.S.

Problems can arise in something as seemingly simple as obtaining your height and weight. Despite all of the fancy technical advances in modern medicine, it is incredible how difficult it is to obtain a reliable height and weight. Heights and weights should be measured without shoes, and weights should be taken with a minimum of clothing to be accurate; regular clothing with pocket items can easily add 3 lbs. SSA makes no mention of the weight of clothing, but it can make a difference between allowance and denial in some cases. Put simply, it is poor practice to weigh people with more than their undergarments if an accurate result is desired. The SSA cannot assume that weights or heights in medical records or other documents are accurate.

It is a source of constant frustration for the SSA to find multiple heights recorded in one claimant’s file. In fact, consistent values are almost never present when even two medical examinations are in the file. The problem is that various medical treating sources are often careless in obtaining accurate heights and various physical examinations over time show heights differing by a half inch to several inches. Some treating medical personnel ask the claimant their height and write that in the medical record. And none of these sources will admit to not doing a simple measurement of height correctly. When there are inconsistent heights—which is most of the cases—the SSA should check with the measuring source that height was measured, and measured without shoes. Also, you should be asked whether your height was measured, and if it was done without shoes. Since weights can vary over time, it is important that the SSA has a reasonably current weight. Like heights, however, medical records often contain inaccurate weights reported by claimants rather than actually measured by their doctors and there is often more than a reasonable amount of variation. Weight should not be measured while you are wearing your street clothes, since that can add several pounds; weight should be taken in an examination gown and socks only. It is a mistake to assume that a physician’s office properly measured your weight. If close to listing-level severity, you should be asked if you were weighed with your clothes on or if someone in the doctor’s office, such as a nurse, simply asked your weight without measuring it. It is not unusual for the SSA to have to set up a consultative examination just to get an accurate height (or weight) on a claimant and provide very specific instructions to the consultative examination source—that is, if the SSA adjudicator is conscientious.


Rounding of numbers in using tables of height associated with any listing is done in such a manner as to be to the advantage of the claimant. If the height of a claimant reported in inches contains a fraction which is one-half or less, it is rounded to the higher whole inch. In the application of the listing, this rounding procedure is to the claimant’s advantage. For example, a height of 5 ft. 5-1/2 inches should be interpreted as 5 ft. 6 inches. However, heights reported in centimeters are not subject to rounding, because such heights are always reported as whole numbers. Since one centimeter is only 0.39 inch, accuracy is sufficient for clinical medicine purposes using whole numbers alone. The claimant’s own statement about his or her height or weight is not sufficient, and often inaccurate.

Continue to Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Weight Loss.

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