Obesity and Social Security Disability
As I write this, a phrase comes to mind: academic gobbledygook.
I came across a post on something called the Disability Law Blog which is...a repost of an asbstract of an essay appearing in the Disability Studies Quarterly. Try saying that three time fast.
I won't repost the abstract here (link below). However, the author of the essay (Professor Anna R. Kirkland of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a non-ivy league ivory tower) states ---
This essay takes up the suggestion that fatness might be (or become) a disability....It would seem to be an improvement from a fat-rights perspective to gain coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act...
I don't have access to the full essay and have no real interest in reading it as my instincts advise me that the level of academic gobbledygook contained therein would be too much to handle (lately, just getting out in rush hour traffic is enough to peel my nerves).
But a few words regarding the wording of the abstract. First of all, if a representative of the social security administration or one of its constituent agencies had ever gone on record referring to obesity in terms of fatness or fat-rights, they would have been flayed alive. A minor issue, but I thought I'd point it out.
Second, academicians who focus on disability always seem to do so in terms of ADA, as if this is where the great political debate rages. Well, perhaps to some extent it does. But, in my opinion, the real issues occur at less lofty levels (where most academics fear to tread and gain little traction due to poor footings). I.E. the bread and butter levels. I.E. where the rubber hits the road.
In some loose way, I'm referring to the political/funding environment that we now have, where not only the federal government but members of congress find it perfectly acceptable to backtrack on issues that directly affect entire segments of society, such as proper funding for medicaid, proper funding for medicare physician reimbursement, proper funding for the social security administration, etc.
Professor Kirkland may not have been aware of the fact that, from a federal program perspective, obesity was once accorded disability status. This was under a listing contained in the endocrine section of the social security impairment listing manual. The listing was 9.09 and it focused not only on height/weight criteria, but also on diastolic blood pressure, venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure, and respiratory disease as criteria for approval.
That listing was dropped and removed from the manual years ago and that, in itself, is an indicator of how much traction obesity gets today in terms of funding. Because, currently, "where the rubber hits the road", the federal government is unwilling to place obesity on the same level as other conditions.
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