Several respiratory disorders and lung diseases entitle you to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
· Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or any other chronic pulmonary insufficiency caused by illness
· Cystic fibrosis
· Pneumonias, tuberculosis, or any other chronic bacterial or fungal lung infection
· Chronic pulmonary vascular hypertension disorders
· Sleep-related breathing disorders
· Lung transplants
· Lung cancer
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first review three initial requirements to determine whether you qualify:
· Are you gainfully employed? This is referred to as substantial gainful activity (SGA), earning over $1,000 monthly.
· How long have you been sick? Has it been at least 12 months, or is it expected to be that long?
· Has your illness been so severe that it has impacted your ability to work or your daily life functions?
After meeting these three criteria above, the SSA will then look in detail at which one of the respiratory disorders you have on their Listing of Impairments. Each of the illnesses above has a separate set of SSA qualifying criteria, so its important to work with a knowledgeable disability attorney.
The SSA will review the symptoms you’ve listed. Many people who have these respiratory disorders have symptoms like shortness of breath, impaired lung function, chest pain, or bloody sputum produced when coughing.
You’ll need medical evidence to quantify your disability. For example, you’ll need evidence of impaired lung function, such as a test result of lung capacity. Lung capacities of at least 80 percent are considered normal.
Provide records dating back as far as you can to show when your disorder first started and all the tests and treatments you’ve had since.
The SSA will need the following types of records:
· physical exams
· spirometry tests
· other tests of lung function
The SSA has very specific requirements regarding these tests and will likely want you reevaluated even though you’ve already undergone a test. For example, your doctor may have performed spirometry, a lung function test that measures the amount of air you can exhale out (called your forced expiratory volume). The SSA will likely send you to one of their doctors to re-administer that test.
Your claim will take longer if the SSA administers its own tests, but once everything is completed and your respiratory disorder has been deemed a qualifying condition and meets all the remaining criteria, you will be approved to receive disability benefits.