Pulmonary conditions cover a wide range of issues affecting the lungs and respiratory system. These ailments can make it difficult or impossible to work, not to mention costing significant sums of money in medical expenses. If you or someone you love is suffering from any of the pulmonary conditions mentioned below, and are unable to hold down a job, Social Security Disability (SSD) may be an option.
But winning disability benefits is no easy task. You may have applied on your own, and had your request wrongfully denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Nikolaus & Hohenadel assists disability applicants and helps appeal adverse SSA decisions.
How Pulmonary Conditions May Impact Your Work
Pulmonary conditions make it difficult to breathe, which in turn can make it hard to maintain steady employment. Some patients who suffer from pulmonary issues find they cannot work at all. If you’re being treated for a pulmonary condition like one listed below, your doctor may recommend that you seek disability benefits:
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This is actually a group of pulmonary diseases that block airflow to the lungs and make it hard to breathe. Examples of conditions that fall under this category include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Shortness of breath, chronic cough, and wheezing are some common symptoms.
Asthma. A person with asthma will experience inflammation of the airways and trouble breathing. Asthma can also cause chest pain and wheezing. Flare-ups can trigger life-threatening attacks and require a rescue inhaler. Asthma patients experience challenges with basic daily activities, including working.
Cystic fibrosis. This disease causes significant damage to the lungs and other organs. With cystic fibrosis, the body produces sticky and thick mucus that can clog up airways. Cystic fibrosis can lead to complications such as severe lung infections. Symptoms vary in degree from one person to another and can interfere with daily life.
These are just a few pulmonary conditions that can impact your ability to work and possibly qualify you for disability.
What Social Security Is Looking For
When you apply for disability, the SSA will rely heavily on your medical records in making its decision. The opinion of your doctor will also affect what Social Security does. It’s important to have your medical records updated and sufficiently detailed to describe your pulmonary condition. The vast majority of first-time SSD applicants are rejected – not because their disability isn’t worthy of compensation, but because they can’t sufficiently document their condition to the SSA’s satisfaction.
Disability examiners review applicants’ medical records and compare them to what’s called the listing of impairments (sometimes referred to as the Blue Book). The listings contain a number of criteria that, if met, will generally qualify a pulmonary patient for disability benefits. For example, the Blue Book contains a listing for COPD. An applicant will meet the listing if he or she can produce pulmonary testing results that demonstrate an appropriate forced expiratory volume.
But the SSA’s listings are highly technical. Only the most severe pulmonary problems will likely meet the strict criteria set forth in the listings. Even if you don’t meet one of the listings for your condition, you may still be able to qualify for SSD if your symptoms are severe enough to keep you from working.
How Can Pulmonary Conditions Qualify If They Do Not Meet The Disability Listing?
If you’re not eligible for disability under one of the impairments listings, Social Security will consider whether you can hold a job in light of your condition. This is where your residual functional capacity, or RFC, may help you win disability benefits.
Medical records will still be necessary to support your claim. SSA will review those records to see if your physical limitations impact your ability to work. Your symptoms, treatment history, and how your condition has responded to treatment will be especially relevant. Taking these into account, SSA will examine whether your condition keeps you from performing common work-related tasks like walking, standing, sitting, and more.
The SSA will then decide how much exertion you are capable of based on your condition. Exertion levels range from sedentary to very heavy work. In essence, the case reviewer wants to know what types of jobs, and what sort of work activities, you can hold. If your pulmonary problem is so severe that you can’t perform standard work tasks, in light of your work history and other factors, you may qualify for disability.
How Can A Disability Attorney Help Me?
Winning disability benefits can be challenging, but having an experienced attorney greatly increases your chances of success. Your lawyer will help gather your medical records to ensure they are as complete and accurate as possible. Understanding what Social Security wants to see, and how to convince them to award you benefits, is why it’s important to have an attorney.
A disability lawyer can also help you appeal a claim denial. If you handled your application on your own and were rejected, you could still win benefits. But it’s important to take quick action so you can start receiving disability as soon as possible.
Contact Our Lancaster Social Security Disability Attorneys For Patients With Pulmonary Conditions
If you’re ready to apply for disability benefits, reach out to Nikolaus & Hohenadel. We have extensive experience handling claims for pulmonary conditions, and we can get started on your case today. Give us a call to schedule your confidential consultation with us.