Obesity cannot be considered a service-connected disability, according to a new ruling by the Department of Veterans Affairs General Counsel expected to be published in the April 8, 2019, edition of the Federal Register.
The new ruling, among several precedent opinions set to be included, reinforces the VA's long-standing opinion that obesity isn't a disease or injury according to the law for wartime or peacetime compensation and can't be considered directly related to military service for compensation purposes.
So why does the VA reject obesity as a service-connected disability if Medicare covers obesity treatment and the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health both say obesity is a disease?
While the VA treats obesity as a disease for which treatment is warranted, the distinction is in the words "service-connected." The VA simply does not see it as a condition that was a result of military service, and therefore for which compensation is payable.
The VA estimates that 78% of veterans are obese, and it does offer several treatment programs for obese vets.