When applying for Social security Disability, the severity of your disabling condition and its impact on your daily activities is often more important than which illness or injury you have. This is particularly true with respiratory problems.
How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
On the one hand, the Social Security Administration’s standards for total disability are fairly constant regardless of what kind of disability you have.
Namely, to qualify for total, long-term disability and Social Security Disability benefits, you must be deemed incapable of performing any work which you have performed before; incapable of adjusting to any other kind of work which is available to people of your education level; and suffering from a disability which is expected to last more than a year or end in your death and meet the Blue Book listing.
Respiratory problems may qualify for Social Security disability benefits as they fall under the same broad guidelines as any other potential disability.
On the other hand, respiratory diseases often take considerably longer to establish as total disability than other disabling problems. Generally speaking, you will need to document your respiratory problems and how they have affected your ability to work for at least a year.
Ideally, you should do this with your doctor’s help. To qualify for Social Security Disability, in most cases, you will need to be under a physician’s care and demonstrate that you are still incapable of performing meaningful work after you have followed your doctor’s instructions regarding your respiratory problems for at least a year.
Types of Conditions that Qualify
Some respiratory problems which are typically considered for Social Security Disability and have specific SSA guidelines include:
- Asthma. To qualify for Social Security Disability due to having asthma, you must demonstrate that it affects your daily activities and ability to perform work. In order to be considered a potential total disability, you must have attacks at least once every two months (six per year) which necessitate a doctor’s treatment. Asthma attacks which require hospitalization count as two attacks, which are less serious.
- Emphysema. Applicants with emphysema have damaged lung tissue. The most common symptom is a chronic cough. Often, though not always, emphysema is caused by smoking cigarettes. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability with emphysema, you will need to demonstrate that you are following your doctor’s instructions (this will usually mean giving up cigarettes) and fully participating in any treatment and medication prescribed.
- Restrictive Lung Disease. This disease prevents your lungs from properly ventilating and exchanging gasses. The result is that your blood ends up lacking adequate oxygen. RLD can be caused by viral or bacterial causes, but more often it is caused by inhaling harmful substances such as asbestos or from radiation such as that used to treat many forms of cancer. It can also be a side effect of a number of serious diseases. As with most respiratory problems, you will need to prove that your RLD makes it impossible for you to accomplish any meaningful work.
- Stroke-related respiratory problems. Many who have suffered a stroke face difficulty breathing while they recover. In some cases, the respiratory problems are severe enough to qualify them for Social Security Disability. The SSA relies heavily on lung capacity tests to determine whether your problem is severe enough to warrant Social Security Disability. You will also want to carefully document all instances of shortness of breath and how it impacted your daily activities, along with any other post-stroke related symptoms.
Talk to a Social Security Attorney
If you have a respiratory problem of any type which you believe may qualify you for Social Security Disability, you should start the claims process sooner rather than later because respiratory claims often take a considerable amount of time to substantiate.
You should also consider contacting a Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate to help you with the claims process. They will be able to help you get all of your medical records in order and will give you the best chance to be approved for benefits.