Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a breathing illness brought on by a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The vast majority of COPD disability is caused by tobacco smoking, though excessive dust and other pollutants may cause the condition as well.
It is extremely important that those who suffer from COPD disability stop smoking. While the existing damage cannot be fixed, you can prevent further damage. Furthermore, failure to follow your doctor’s orders to prevent smoking can negatively impact your Social Security Disability claim.
Unfortunately, the harm caused to the airway because of COPD is not generally repairable and doesn’t typically respond positively to treatment.
COPD Disability and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
COPD can make it impossible for you to work. Since physical exertion often triggers the condition, many who suffer with it find that they can’t continue working on jobs they’ve previously done.
The Social Security Administration will look at all the jobs you have held in the past 15 years to see if you are physically capable of doing any of them. Ultimately, it is up to you (and your Social Security Disability attorney, if you have one) to prove that you’re no longer capable of performing a job which you once qualified for.
COPD and Your Power to Perform Sedentary Work
It is sometimes more of an uphill battle to prove that you’re incapable of doing work. But if your COPD is severe enough, or if it’s been shown to be triggered by stress that often accompanies the workplace, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you are already older 55 years old and have never performed sedentary work, the SSA may approve your application.
To do sedentary work is to sit for six hours or more. Unskilled sedentary work frequently requires the use of fine motor skills. COPD doesn’t directly affect any of these skills.
How Long Does It Take to Get Disability for COPD?
The Social Security impairment list includes A. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; B. chronic restrictive ventilatory disorder; C. chronic impairment of gas exchange due to clinically documented pulmonary disorder; and D. Exacerbations or complications requiring three hospitalizations within a 12-month interval and at least 30 days apart.
COPD Criteria for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you’re considering making a Social Security Disability claim based on your COPD, your first move is to make sure that you are getting regular treatment from a physician and that you are following all his suggestions (such as stopping smoking).
Your next move should be to contact a Social Security Disability lawyer, as they have the knowledge necessary to guide you through the process.
Being represented by a Social Security Disability attorney may provide you the very best chance of getting the benefits that you need. The process is long and complicated, and you want someone knowledgeable on your side to assist you.
Even if you have been denied, you still have the right to appeal the decision. In addition, you have the right to representation by a competent Social Security Disability lawyer at all steps of the appeals procedure.
Applying for Social Security Disability
Talk to your healthcare provider since the process is often long and drawn out, so it might not be worth applying if your physician doesn’t think you’ll be approved. Programs are approved at the first claim stage, and so most are forced to take part in appeals which may take up to 2 years before you find yourself with a favorable an answer and start receiving benefits.
In case you’ve decided to apply, whether with an RFC or the Blue Book, make sure to check the website for all the evidence the SSA requires. Because if claimants don’t provide the crucial information they need to prove their disability, their claims are refused.
For COPD, important evidence includes:
Spirometry, which measures the maximum amount of air you can exhale, or forced expiratory volume (FVC), which comprises your FEV1.
Imaging tests, such as chest X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. These can help determine how advanced your COPD is, as well as rule out other causes.
Arterial blood gas evaluation, which measures how well your lungs take in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide.
Additional lung function tests, like a lung diffusion capacity, which measures how oxygen passes into your blood.
A comprehensive statement from your doctor describing your medical history as it relates to limitations along with your illness, symptoms, and COPD.
Summaries of hospitalizations any associated surgeries, and treatments.
Make certain that you double check your application not just for missing evidence but also for missed questions and errors. You also need to provide relevant personal documents and tax information. A whole list of documentation can be found on the SSA’s site. It’s vital that you submit everything. Your application might be delayed or denied if you don’t submit the needed requirements.
For most Social Security programs, you can submit the application online, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of making an appointment in the SSA office. But if you prefer to apply in person, the SSA staff is always available. If you want to apply for Supplementary Security Benefits (SSI), then you should apply in the regional SSA office, as online applications are not accepted.
Remember: The more evidence you can provide about your condition and its severity, the higher chance you have of being accepted.
COPD Disability Tax Credit
To be qualified for COPD Disability Tax Credit, the individual must be unable to walk 100m (a city block) or it takes them an inordinate amount of time (3 times more than normal) to accomplish this due to shortness of breath.