Of all the physical impairments that can qualify an applicant for disability insurance benefits, COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is one of the most common and also one of the most deadly. It was the 6th most common cause of death in the world 20 years ago, and is expected to jump to the fourth spot on that list in the coming years. It manifests itself as either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, both of which cause a narrowing of the airways inside and leading to the lungs. The most common symptom of this narrowing is chronic and permanent shortness of breath, and it can vary in severity from mild to life-threatening.
In order to better educate our clients who might be suffering from COPD, our disability attorneys attempt to educate those applying for Social Security benefits about the condition, as well as its place in the legal framework set up by the Social Security Administration. To do this, we will examine the causes and symptoms of COPD, and the analysis used to determine whether it can qualify a claimant for SSI or SSDI disability benefits.
What is COPD?
As stated above, COPD is a blanket term used to diagnose both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Bronchitis is a swelling of the tissue in the lungs surrounding the bronchi. These are the medium sized airways that carry air from the main trachea into the lungs themselves. Since these passageways are crucial in the delivery of air into the lungs, bronchitis can be severely debilitating. Once the swelling presents itself, sufferers experience intense, hacking coughs that often produce a great deal of mucus. Normal bronchitis is usually the result of some sort of infection, be it bacterial or viral, and will go away with time. Chronic bronchitis, however, is a diagnosis given when the swelling lasts for two to three months per year in two back-to-back years.
The other form of COPD, emphysema, results when the tissues that make up the structural integrity of the lung begin to atrophy and are destroyed. The tiny sacs that transmit oxygen into the blood, known as alveoli, are then unable to inflate properly. An obstructive effect is caused, as the air cannot enter the alveoli and then the bloodstream. Carbon dioxide begins to build up in the blood and this causes extreme shortness of breath, often much worse than that experienced by people with chronic bronchitis.
How is COPD evaluated by Social Security?
The most important diagnostic tool when considering a COPD case is known as a pulmonary function test. This test is easy to understand as it simply measures the amount of air a patient can expel in one breath. This is measured by a value known as the FEV1. FEV1 measures the amount of air that a person can breathe out in the first second of a large breath.
Social Security, in its listing of disabling conditions at 3.02, considers certain FEV1values to be so low that a finding of disability is warranted. The number can vary depending on the height of the person taking the test. It is very important for your disability attorney to have records of any pulmonary function tests to properly argue your case.
COPD is a severe limitation on one’s ability to perform job related duties. Heavy manual labor jobs increase the risk of a life-threatening pulmonary incident, and even sedentary jobs may be difficult when one cannot stand after long periods of sitting. Our disability attorneys can assist you with evaluating your case for disability benefits if you should suffer from COPD that prevents you from working. Whether you are applying for Social Security benefits or appealing a Social Security denial, our Social Security law firm is here to help you with the benefits process.
If you want a disability benefits, visit Disabilitylawyer.com. They will provide licensed social security disability attorneys to evaluate your disability claim.