Emphysema and Social Security Disability
Emphysema can be a difficult condition to live with. As the condition progresses and becomes worse it can be difficult or impossible for a sufferer to continue to work. This can lead to financial difficulties due to a lack of income and loss of medical insurance while medical bills continue to rise. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits can help those suffering from severe Emphysema cases. If you have developed Emphysema and wonder whether or not you might qualify for disability benefits the following information can help you understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews claims based on the condition of Emphysema and what you should expect during the Social Security Disability claim process.
Emphysema - Condition and Symptoms
When a person suffers from Emphysema, the alveoli of the lungs begin to deteriorate. The alveoli are tiny sacs inside the lungs that help the lungs transfer carbon dioxide and oxygen. Emphysema is a chronic condition that becomes worse over time. As the condition worsens, more lung tissue is destroyed and the ability to breathe becomes even more difficult.
There is currently no viable cure for Emphysema, although the progression of the condition can be slowed drastically by smoking cessation and the avoidance of lung irritants. Certain steroids, inhalers and oxygen treatments can also help an Emphysema patient's ability to breathe.
Surgery may sometimes be an option for Emphysema patients, although the two types of surgeries available have significant risks. There is a surgical procedure that was introduced in 2006 that can help alleviate Emphysema by placing valves in the lung passages that are affected by the condition. However, there have been reports of people's lungs collapsing after undergoing this particular surgical treatment. Lung replacement surgery is also an option, but most Emphysema patients are not healthy enough to undergo such a surgery.
As Emphysema progresses it can interfere with a person's ability to perform day-to-day activities and participate in gainful employment. Because of this, many of the people who suffer from advanced Emphysema try to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Emphysema
The SSA does recognize respiratory system impairments in its Listing of Impairments that it uses to qualify individuals who are applying for disability benefits. Unfortunately, Emphysema is not named specifically so it can be harder to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. Instead of being listed directly, Emphysema falls under the “obstructive airway disease” in section 3.0 of the Impairment Listings. With that being said, it is important to understand that a diagnosis of Emphysema is not, in and of itself, enough to have your disability claim approved.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to Emphysema you must have medical evidence documenting the fact that your Emphysema condition is severe enough to interfere with your ability to perform work-related activities. The SSA will evaluate your ability to perform daily activities, walk and move when deciding whether or not to approve your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. They will also examine how you respond to Emphysema treatments and what treatments you have tried.
If you can meet the impairment requirements listed in Social Security's “Blue Book” of Listings due to your Emphysema condition, you may likely be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. This means that you must have medical records and documentation outlining the severity of your condition and how it interferes with your day-to-day life. If enough documentation is not evident, you may be asked to undergo a consultative exam.
Emphysema and Your Social Security Disability Case
If your case of Emphysema is severe enough and there is sufficient medical documentation to prove your inability to work because of it, you have a chance of being at the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. Keep in mind, however, that only 30 percent of applicants are approved at this stage of the process. Many of the people who suffer from Emphysema have their initial claim for disability benefits denied and must go on to file an appeal.
It normally takes between 90 to 120 days from the date of your Social Security Disability application to receive a decision from the SSA. If your claim is denied, you will need to appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. It is in your best interests to go on to appeal the decision rather than just applying all over again. Your chances of winning an appeal are greater than your chances of having a second application approved at the initial stage of the Social Security Disability claim process.
If your benefits are denied in the initial stage of the process you may want to consider hiring a disability attorney who is experienced at handling Social Security Disability cases. Hiring a qualified attorney can greatly increase your chances of winning your Social Security Disability appeal.
- Do You Qualify?
- Application Process
- Medical Conditions
- Disability Resources