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Asthma and Other Respiratory Disability Cases

    If you suffer from asthma or have other lung or respiratory problems, you may qualify for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in one of two ways:


(1)  Your condition may be so bad that you meet or equal the level of severity that Social Security has listed for lung disease.


(2)  Your condition may not meet the listing but still be so bad that:

You cannot return to the easiest job you had during the 15 years before you became disabled because you cannot handle the stress or physical demands of that job, and


You cannot adjust to other work because of your age, education, past work experience, lack of transferable skills, and reduced physical condition.

    This second way of getting Social Security Disability for lung problems means that you qualify under the medical - vocational rules.  (This is sometimes called meeting the "grids" because a chart or grid is used to determine who qualifies for Social Security benefits under these rules.)


The Respiratory Listings

    There are several respiratory listings.  Each listing usually requires (1) pulmonary function test results at certain levels and (2) reduced physical abilities due to the lung condition.  The listings are written in technical medical language, like the listings for the other body parts.

    A common criticism of the listings is that they rely too much on pulmonary function tests results.  Persons can have similar test results but differ greatly in how their lung problems affect them.  Social Security relies more on test results in determining disability than doctors do in treating patients.

    The listings generally require your lung condition to remain severe even while you are under medical care and following your doctor's instructions.

    The following is a very simplified discussion of the common Social Security Disability listings for asthma and other respiratory problems.


Listing 3.02  Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency.  To qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI under this listing, test results for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) must satisfy the requirements of any one of these three tests:

The first test measures Forced Expiratory Folume (FEV1), which is the amount of air that you can blow out in one second, measured in litres.  You would meet this test, for example, if you are 5' 8" tall and your FEV1 score is 1.45, meaning that in one second you can only blow out 1.45 litres (about 1 1/3 quarts) of air.


The second test measures Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), which is the amount of air that you can blow out in one breath.  You would meet this test, for example, if you are 5' 8" tall and your FVC score is 1.65, meaning that you can only blow out 1.65 litres (about 1 1/2 quarts) of air in one breath.


The third test measures gas exchange, that is, how well your lungs work in taking in oxygen and exchanging it for carbon dioxide to breathe out.  There are actually 3 different tests that can be used to measure this gas exchange.  One of these tests, for example, can be met if your lungs can only send carbon dioxide across your lung membranes at 40% or less of the normal rate.


Listing 3.03 AsthmaAsthma results when your lungs' bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrow so that less air enters your lungs. You may qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI if your asthma cannot be adequately controlled with prescription drugs.  You can meet the listing for asthma in one of two ways:

Your pulmonary function tests meet the requirement for Listing 3.02.


 You suffer asthma attacks that require you to get urgent medical treatment at least once every 2 months or 6 times in 1 year.  (Any attack which requires you to be hospitalized for more than 24 hours counts as 2 attacks.)  This second way of meeting the listing for asthma is the most common way that the Social Security Disability respiratory listings are met.

    As mentioned above, if you do not meet the listings   and many people with respiratory problems do not   you may still qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI due to your age, your education, the type of work you have done, and how much stress or activity you can tolerate because of your respiratory condition.  To learn more, read about the medical - vocational rules.


When You Need a Social Security Disability Lawyer,

Rely on Us for Skill, Determination and Experience.

Attorney John Serrano - Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Immigration, Workers Compensation.  Hartford, Waterbury

Please note that our law firm's website is designed to provide only general legal information.

This information is not intended to be legal advice for your individual situation.

Call us for personal injury, Social Security, divorce, bankruptcy, immigration, workers compensation and criminal cases.

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