It is estimated that there are nearly 4,000 individuals waiting for lung transplants in the United States alone. There are a number of conditions that may lead to the need for a lung transplant, but what many people wonder is how the transplant will affect their Social Security Disability benefits once the procedure has been completed. Many of the individuals who are waiting for a lung transplant are applying for disability benefits or already receiving Social Security Disability benefits due to the condition that is causing the need for the transplant. When the lung transplant occurs, the initial basis of their disability claim may no longer be valid. The following information will shed light on how a lung transplant will affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance and how you can protect your right to SSD payments.
Lung Transplant Condition and Symptoms
A lung transplant is a surgery that replaces either one or both diseased lungs in the body with a healthy lung (or lungs) from an organ donor. During a lung transplant, a surgeon will cut into the chest cavity to remove the damaged or diseased lung and then sew the new lung (or lungs) into the main blood vessels and air passage of the body.
The reasons for a lung transplant can vary. Common conditions that lead to the need for a lung transplant include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and primary pulmonary hypertension.
A lung transplant itself is not without serious risks. Complications can arise and there is a chance that the body can reject the transplanted lung or that an infection can occur. Other side effects of a lung transplant can include chronic cough, breathing difficulties, irregular heart rate, voice changes and fatigue. It can take some individuals a year or more to completely recover from a lung transplant. Others may never fully recover from the procedure at all.
For obvious reasons, an individual will be unable to work immediately following a lung transplant and in the months thereafter. Because of this, lung transplant patients should apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Lung Transplant
Individuals who have undergone a lung transplant have an easier time obtaining Social Security Disability benefits immediately following a lung transplant than many other SSD applicants. This is because lung transplants are covered under section 3.11 of the SSA's Medical Listings for Social Security Disability guidelines.
Under section 3.11 of the Medical Listings, a lung transplant patient is considered to be disabled for a period of one year following the date of the lung transplant. It is after that twelve-month period, however, that some SSD recipients and applicants may run into trouble.
After the initial twelve-month period that is allowed by the Social Security Administration to recover from a lung transplant, the SSA will review and evaluate the residual impairment of the disability recipient. If it is determined that the individual is no longer disabled, their Social Security Disability benefits will be discontinued. If you are still disabled after the twelve-month period, you will need to prove to the SSA that you are still unable to work due to your lung transplant procedure.
A Lung Transplant and Your Social Security Disability Case
The Social Security Administration only approves approximately 30 percent of the initial disability claims they receive each year. Because a lung transplant applicant is nearly guaranteed disability benefits for a twelve month period, your Social Security Disability claim is likely to be among those that are approved at this stage of the process. However, if your claim for disability benefits is for some reason denied, you will need to seek the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate to obtain the Social Security Disability benefits that you are entitled to.
You may also need to obtain the services of a qualified SSD lawyer or representative if the Social Security Administration tries to stop your benefits after the twelve-month disability period has passed. If the twelve-month time period since the date of your transplant passes and you are still unable to work, you may need to fight to keep your Social Security Disability benefits in effect. If this is the case, your attorney or advocate can gather the medical evidence that will be needed to prove that you are still unable to participate in gainful work activity.
To learn more about filing for Social Security Disability benefits due to a lung transplant or how to keep your benefits at the end of the twelve-month disability period, or to learn more about working with a Social Security Disability lawyer, simply fill out the form for a free evaluation of your case