ERISA & Social Security Disability: Southern California Lawyers
Disability Benefits for COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic lung condition that obstructs air flow in-and-out of the lungs, causing difficulty with breathing, cough, mucous production, wheezing, and shortness of breath. “Emphysema” (alveolar damage) and “chronic bronchitis” (bronchial inflammation) are older terms that are not used much anymore, because they are included in COPD.
The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, but there are other lung irritants that can cause COPD. There is even a rare genetic disorder, called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) deficiency, that can cause COPD in susceptible patients, who have never smoked.
Getting Disability Benefits for COPD with a "Listing"
COPD is a “listing level disease,” which means the Social Security Administration (SSA) has published a set of criteria for severity that, if you meet those criteria, under most circumstances you will automatically be eligible for disability benefits.
The SSA “listing” for COPD is under 3.02 Chronic Respiratory Disorder.It is based primarily on breathing tests done by your pulmonologist to measure your breathing called “spirometry.” The breathing tests that are included in Listing 3.02 are the FEV-1, FVC, DLCO, and arterial blood gasses (ABG).
The FEV-1 measures your“forced expiratory volume,” which is the amount of air you can force out of your lungs in 1 second. The FVC is “forced vital capacity,” which means the total amount of air you can exhale from your lungs. The DLCO is also called the “diffusing capacity,” which refers to how well your lungs can transfer carbon dioxide and oxygen into and out of your lungs. ABG or “arterial blood gasses” directly measure the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood.
Good Communication with Your Doctor is Very Important in Proving-Up Your Case
Ask to see a pulmonologist. Those are the doctors that are experts in diagnosing and treating COPD.
Ask your doctor to order spirometry. These are the “breathing tests” that measure your FEV-1, FVC, DLCO, and arterial blood gasses (ABG).
Documenting your limitations: How does your condition affect you? Be specific to articulate to your physician details of your physical limitations and how they impact you on a daily basis with regard to your daily living activities, your ability to stand/walk, lift/carry, and even sit for extended periods of time and need for breaks or rest from pain or fatigue. These are important factors and details regarding your functional capacity and important in evaluating whether you can perform your work or any work.