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Asthma and Social Security Disability

Asthma is a condition that affects millions of Americans. In some cases the condition is easily treated, but in others the impairment may be quite severe, preventing an individual from performing gainful work activity. Because of this, some of the people suffering from asthma wonder if they might be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you are suffering from severe asthma and wonder if it is possible to receive disability benefits because of your condition, the following information will help you understand how your asthma affects your disability claim and what you may need to do during the application process.

Asthma - Condition and Symptoms

Asthma is a respiratory condition caused by the narrowing of the airways to the lungs. During an asthma attack these airways inflame and line with mucus. This can make it difficult or even impossible for the asthma sufferer to breathe. In some instances an asthma attack can even be life threatening.

Asthma is most commonly diagnosed in children, but there are cases of adult-onset asthma as well. Cases of asthma are on the rise. In fact, there has been a seventy-five percent increase in asthma cases in the past few decades and as many as six percent of children in the United States suffer from the condition.

While no one is sure exactly what causes asthma, there are certain risk factors that can increase one's chances of developing the condition. These risk factors include low birth weight, a family history, maternal smoking and a viral respiratory infection.

Individuals who suffer from asthma must avoid the triggers of asthma attacks. Asthma triggers include dust, pollen, certain foods, strong odors, damp air, infection, smoke, pet dander and other environmental factors. When these things are inhaled, the immune system triggers the asthma response, causing an asthma attack to occur.

Signs of an asthma attack can include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and a tightening in the chest. Certain medications can help control these symptoms but there is currently no cure for the condition itself. If an asthma attack is severe enough and medication is not administered quickly enough or is not effective, a loss of consciousness or even death can occur.

If a person suffers from severe asthma, it may be impossible for them to work. If this is the case they may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Asthma

Asthma is included in the Impairment Listings Manual used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine whether or not a claimant is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Not all cases of asthma will qualify for disability benefits. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a person's asthma must cause frequent and severe attacks in spite of prescribed treatment. These attacks must require physician intervention and they must occur at least once every two months. If an attack results in hospitalization of 24 hours or more, that episode will count as two separate attacks.

When determining whether or not an individual qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits due to asthma, the SSA will want to see that the episodes last at least a day and require intensive treatment such as antibiotics or an intravenous bronchodilator. Emergency room visits and hospital stays that are recorded in your medical records can provide proof of this during the Social Security Disability application process.

The SSA will require a thorough medical history, physical exam and x-rays from you in order to approve your claim. In some cases additional testing and a consultative exam may be necessary.

Asthma and Your Social Security Disability Case

Severe cases of asthma will likely qualify for disability benefits as long as all of the above requirements are met. It is not uncommon, however, for asthma sufferers to have to file an appeal due to a denial of their initial claim. In fact, only about 30 percent of the people who apply for Social Security Disability are approved at the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. The remaining 70 percent must go through the appeal process if they hope to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

If your claim is denied at the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process you will receive a letter in writing advising you of this fact. It is crucial that you appeal this decision within 60 days in order to overturn the decision.

If you do need to file an appeal, it may be in your best interests to retain the services of a Social Security Disability attorney. Doing so will not incur any up-front, out-of-pocket expense and may greatly increase your chances of successfully appealing the decision to deny your Social Security Disability claim.