Collecting Disability for COPD

March 27, 2018

The condition known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes it highly difficult for an individual to breathe normally. Individuals with the most severe cases of this disease require the use of supplemental oxygen. However, a COPD diagnosis by itself does not automatically qualify you to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in Philadelphia or throughout Pennsylvania. Instead, persons with a COPD diagnosis or another chronic respiratory issue must meet particular eligibility guidelines provided by the Socials Security Administration (SSA).

The impairments that qualify individuals to receive benefits are listed in an SSA publication, often referred to as “the Blue Book.” Individuals with COPD can find this information in Section 3.00 of this publication which covers respiratory disorders.

The SSA evaluates the severity of your impairment through test results. There are maximum thresholds that must be met to determine if you can be designated as disabled and consequently eligible for benefits. A doctor can perform the necessary tests to prove you are impaired and ensure this impairment is documented properly in your medical records. The SSA uses these records to evaluate your disability claim for benefits.

General eligibility for disability benefits

There are general eligibility requirements that apply to all individuals filing a claim for disability benefits. The following criteria must be satisfied in order for your claim in Philadelphia or throughout the nation to be approved.

  • The amount of income you earn each month must not be greater than the income limits set by the SSA. If they are, the SSA will deem that you are able to support yourself with steady work and are not qualified for disability benefits
  • You must have a severe disability that leaves you are unable to work, or able to work in a very limited capacity.
  • You must have a condition that has lasted for at least one year, is expected to last for at least one more year, or is expected to result in your death

In order to determine disability, SSA doctors follow a guideline referred to as the Listing of Impairments. This guideline includes medical standards for a number of different conditions.

Listing of impairments to determine disability

Within the Blue Book, the listing of impairments is divided by body system. The listing for COPD is given in Section 3.02 that covers chronic pulmonary insufficiency. In this section, the publication explains that claims due to COPD as a result of any cause will be considered by the SSA, with the requirement that the COPD matches additional standards based on the Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) criteria.

If your FEV numbers are lower than the SSA’s FEV chart numbers in the Listing of Impairments, as evaluated by medical examiner, you may be in a strong position to qualify for benefits.

However, you may also have to undergo a thorough medical examination. This can include a chest x-ray, as well as a review of your medical history in order to verify your impairment. This is necessary due to the fact that many other types of non-qualifying diseases can have the same symptoms, such as chest pain, wheezing, coughing, etc.

If your clinical review does not meet the benefit eligibility requirements, you may still have the opportunity to qualify for benefits through the results of a residual functional capacity assessment. This assessment can determine whether your condition prevents you from obtaining gainful employment by evaluating your ability to get around, take care of yourself, and perform specific work-related tasks.

If you have COPD and need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the Philadelphia attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates are here to help you. We offer our services to clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. To arrange a free consultation, call us today at 888.PITT.LAW or complete our contact form.