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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

When Your Asthma Becomes a Disability in Massachusetts

Asthma affects many Massachusetts residents. It is serious enough to be included under qualifying respiratory conditions in the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability listing of impairments. While asthma is treatable, it can and does become debilitating for the sufferer in some cases. The question is, when does asthma become a disability? Let's look at some facts.

Asthma is a chronic obstructive condition of the respiratory system. Put simply, the airways become inflamed and narrow, which causes wheezing, chest constriction, coughing and difficulty taking a breath. Asthma attacks happen periodically with any or all of these symptoms. They vary in intensity and can be frightening.

Asthma starts during childhood for most people, but can affect all ages. Over 22 million people in the United States have asthma. Children make up six million of these sufferers. While some asthma attacks go away on their own, the symptoms can continue to get worse. A severe asthma attack can land the patient in the emergency room and can even result in death.

Fortunately, most asthma sufferers can be treated and live normal lives. This requires regular ongoing medical care, as there is no cure. There is also no known cause for asthma. There are a few factors, though, that researchers are studying:

  • A tendency to develop allergies that is inherited (atopy)
  • Some childhood respiratory infections
  • Parents who have or had asthma
  • Exposure or contact with some allergens or infections while a baby or very young child
  • The "hygiene hypothesis": A current theory that children are not exposed to as many environmental factors and infections as past children were. As a result, it is thought that the immune system may develop differently.


There are many triggers for asthma which include:

  • Dust, mold, pollen, animal fur, cockroaches
  • Cigarette smoke, workplace chemicals or dust, home spray products, air pollution
  • Some medicines, like aspirin, some anti-inflammatory drugs and some beta-blockers
  • Sulfites found in food and beverages
  • Respiratory infections, including colds
  • Physical exercise


Asthma is generally treated with medications of two types: quick relief and long-term control. These are usually effective in controlling symptoms. However, your asthma is getting worse and may affect your ability to work if:

  • Your symptoms are causing you to lose sleep, happening more often, and/or are more severe.
  • You are missing work because of asthma attacks.
  • Your peak flow number (established with your doctor) is low or swings from day to day.
  • Your asthma medicines are not working.
  • You need your quick relief inhaler more than usual. Twice a week is the max.
  • An asthma attack sends you to the emergency room or your doctor.


If you feel your asthma is getting worse and your job is at stake, it may be time to apply to the SSA for disability benefits. Your doctor can help you make this decision.

Keefe Disability Law helps its New England clients to file claims and fight denials. If you want help in getting the benefits you need, please call us toll free today at 888-904-6847. Order one of our free reports here as well to learn more about disability claims.


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