Getting Social Security Benefits for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also known as COPD) is a condition that affects an estimated 15 million Americans. By 2020, it is expected to be the third-leading cause of death worldwide and the fifth-leading cause of disability. While smoking is a major risk factor for COPD, the disease can also be triggered by long-term exposure to air pollution at work or home. Genetics may also increase one’s likelihood of developing the disease.
COPD Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of COPD include severe coughing, shortness of breath and other respiratory issues. If not managed, these symptoms can get worse over time, eventually limiting the affected individual’s capacity to earn a living and care for themselves. Treatment for COPD can include medications or surgery, though most doctors recommend making lifestyle changes first. These include quitting smoking, limiting exposure to pollutants and getting more exercise.
However, some recommended changes and therapies require considerable resources and may necessitate the individual leaving their job. For these reasons, COPD is one of the conditions eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration’s SSI and SSDI programs. If you’re serious about your recovery, applying for Social Security disability benefits for COPD can give you the time and financial freedom required to manage your condition.
Getting Benefits for COPD
COPD is one of the conditions listed in the SSA’s Blue Book of diseases, which means certain conditions must be met to qualify for benefits automatically. In addition to a diagnosis of the disease, spirometric testing must indicate a forced expiratory volume (FEV1) below a certain threshold, determined by your height.
It may also be possible to qualify for Social Security COPD disability benefits if test results demonstrate a reduced capacity of your lungs tooxygenate blood. This is shown either through a DLCO (diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide) score of less than 40% of the normal value for your race, or by arterial blood gas (ABG) testing results demonstrating PO2 and PCO2 levels below a given standard.
Filing a Claim
Lack of sufficient medical evidence is one of the most common reasons why COPD disability claims are rejected. While many applicants are denied benefits the first time they apply, it may be possible to mount a successful appeal even if your test results do not reach the levels to automatically qualify.
The first step to securing benefits for COPD or any disability should be to speak with a lawyer. Whether you’re applying for the first time or mounting an appeal to reverse a prior decision, contact Ritacco Disability Law today. Our COPD benefits lawyers will assist you in gathering the clinical evidence you need to support your claim to either SSDI or SSI. Contact our office today for more information.