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Can I Claim Any Benefits for COPD?

Can I Claim Any Benefits for COPD?

Do you have COPD?  Are you looking to see if you can claim disability benefits?  Read on for information about whether you may qualify for social security benefits for COPD!

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What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this is a series of diseases that impacts airflow for 16 million Americans.  The disease groupings include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  There is no cure for COPD, but symptoms may be treatable.

What are symptoms of COPD?

Symptoms of COPD may include:

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  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty taking deep breaths
  • Frequent coughing
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Excessive phlegm

Who is at risk for COPD?

The majority of people who are diagnosed with COPD are current or past smokers or tobacco users.  Many COPD patients may also have asthma and be sensitive to air quality issues.  In developed countries, indoor air pollution has become a noted risk factor for COPD.

How do I know if I have COPD?

A doctor can perform a lung function test called a spirometry to determine if you may have COPD.  This test measures how quickly and easily you can exhale, as well as how much air you can move in and out of your lungs.

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How can I treat COPD?

If you are a smoker, the most effective way to improve your lung health is to stop smoking.  Avoiding indoor and outdoor air pollution can also help protect your lung health.  Medications can be used to treat coughing and wheezing.  Maintaining a healthy diet can help improve your overall health to protect your lungs.

What if I can’t work because of COPD?

COPD is a serious disease and can impact your ability to work.  The COPD Foundation reports that this disease is the cause of the most days lost of productivity in the workforce than any other chronic condition!

If you are believed to be unable to work for 12 months or are diagnosed with end-stage disease, you may be eligible for benefits for COPD.

benefits for COPD breathing treatment

Who decides if I qualify for benefits for COPD?

Disability benefits for COPD are managed through the Social Security Administration (SSA).  If your COPD meets the requirements listed in the SSA’s Blue Book of disorders, you may qualify to receive benefits for COPD.

The technical requirements for the Blue Book are in Listing 3.02 for Chronic Respiratory Disorders.  These give specific limits to lung capacity and function as well as oxygenation in order to qualify for benefits for COPD.

What is a Medical-Vocational Allowance for Respiratory Conditions?

The requirements in the Blue Book listing often are for the most severe stages of disease, so many people qualify for disability benefits for COPD using a Medical-Vocational Allowance for Respiratory Conditions.

This process includes evaluating whether you are able to work in full time employment.  Your age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity (RFC) are all considered in whether you may be eligible for disability benefits for COPD.  Per SSA rules, you must not be able to earn more than $1,260 per month.

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What COPD symptoms could affect my ability to work?

Physically demanding jobs may trigger or worsen COPD symptoms more than sedentary jobs.  Some symptoms that could make working difficult can include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Getting out of breath
  • Chest tightness or discomfort
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Respiratory infections
  • Frequent hospitalizations

What information do I need to apply for disability benefits for COPD?

Documentation of your medical condition is important for SSA to be able to evaluate whether you are eligible for disability benefits for COPD.  All records of pulmonary testing, treatment, hospitalizations, etc. are critical for showing the impact on your health and ability to work.

In addition, documentation from your doctor about any restrictions regarding your ability to perform physical tasks, sit, stand, lift, carry is important to include.  You should also provide any information your doctor has noted regarding restrictions in your environment, such as air quality, temperature, and exposure to dust, odors, or fumes.  The SSA will also consider if you have been prescribed medication for lung conditions as well as supplemental oxygen.

You may also need to provide employment history information, proof of citizenship, military discharge papers, tax returns, and more.

How do I apply for disability benefits for COPD?

Typically, SSA disability benefits require that you have worked five out of the last ten years in order to qualify for benefits for COPD or any condition.  Many claims are initially denied and the process can be lengthy.  This is why it is important to provide as much medical documentation as possible.  If your symptoms worsen as you await a decision about benefits for COPD, notify SSA immediately. Any additional hospitalizations and treatments may be considered in their decision.  You may appeal their decision if it is initially denied.

To start the application process, you can complete the disability application form online.

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You may also apply in person at an SSA office using their SSA office locator tool.

The national SSA information phone number is 1-800-772-1213.

We have many more resources for help with disability benefits!

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After 27 years in law enforcement and state Veterans Affairs agencies, I found myself working from home and looking for dollar-stretching resources. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to navigate and I'm happy to lend my experiences to make this easier for others!