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How the Social Security Administration Classifies Disability Based on Respiratory Disease or Injury

How the Social Security Administration Classifies Disability Based on Respiratory Disease or Injury

I have chronic asthma and suffer from frequent attacks. Could I be eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

With any evaluation of Social Security disability benefits, the SSA will review the applicant’s occupational information as well as the medical condition from which he or she is suffering. Generally speaking, benefits may be awarded to one who – due to both the nature of the job and the severity of the illness – is unable to continue working at their current place of employment without enduring a substantial health risk. Accordingly, the results of an application for benefits may vary – even within a group of applicants suffering from the same condition. However, when reviewing a claim involving a condition like a chronic respiratory issue, the SSA will take a look at certain factors across the board.

Respiratory disorders

Asthma, COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis (bronchial inflammation) fall under the umbrella of chronic respiratory disorders. When reviewing claims involving these conditions, the SSA will refer to the list of qualifying symptoms as found in its Blue Book, which details the symptoms and effects of nearly all qualifying conditions recognized by the SSA. If a condition meets the symptoms listed in the Blue Book, the SSA will approve the application for benefits automatically. Nonetheless, proving that the symptoms interfere with patient functioning is not always easy.

  • Chronic Pulmonary InsufficiencyMeeting this test requires a spirometry test showing that the volume of air exhaled in one second is equal to or less than a certain amount given the applicant’s height. An alternative test may be necessary for applicants suffering from a condition impacting the oxygenation levels in the blood.
  • AsthmaTo automatically qualify as an asthmatic, an applicant must show evidence of an asthma attack at least once every two months or six times per year, lasting longer than 24 hours, and requiring hospitalization.
  • Cystic Fibrosis

When evaluating applicants with cystic fibrosis, the SSA will review the frequency of respiratory infections, lung capacity, and/or the number of annual episodes requiring medical intervention.

Though a patient may be troubled by respiratory difficulties, unless the patient meets the above conditions, he or she will not qualify as disabled under government guidelines.

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