Obesity Could be Covered Under Workers Comp

The American Medical Association recently reclassified obesity as a treatable disease. This and other workers comp reforms could have huge implications for claims, which have historically treated obesity as a condition separate from a work illness or injury. The reclassification may mean that doctors will feel a greater responsibility to advise patients with work injuries about obesity and to add on obesity treatments to their recovery plans. For patients, workers comp reform could mean that obesity is treated as a consequence of injuries, such as sleep disorders and psychological disorders, and are, thus, compensable under workers’ comp. Some workers with sedentary jobs may also be able to file for workers’ comp with obesity listed as the primary condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity is a major health issue in the U.S., with almost 40 percent of the population classified as obese. Obesity rates are highest among African-Americans (49.5 percent), Mexican Americans in particular (40.4 percent) and all Hispanics in general (39.1 percent).

Obesity is related to other serious and sometimes life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

In the workplace, a growing body of research has shown that obese workers are much more likely to be debilitated by work-related injuries, take longer to recover and have a higher risk of becoming permanently disabled than non-obese workers. A work-related injury can lead to additional weight gain, making it more difficult to return to work.

Although the reclassification of obesity as a treatable disease may make it easier for workers to get compensation and medical treatment for obesity or obesity related conditions, other factors may hinder obese workers from getting the compensation and medical treatments they truly deserve. Obese workers may be pressured to settle for less compensation than they are eligible for, or their employer may deny or contest their claim.

In cases involving new benefits under workers comp reform, it’s critical to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can advocate for your legal rights.