When a person has difficulty breathing, it is often impossible to hold a job. Some people with respiratory ailments develop these conditions as a result of the conditions in their workplace. Fortunately for those suffering, various types of respiratory ailments qualify for disability benefits. One such condition that may be eligible is known as pneumoconiosis.

What Is Pneumoconiosis?

Pneumoconiosis is a disease of the lungs caused by prolonged inhalation of harmful dust. The inhalation of these dusts results in damage to the lung tissue. Many people who develop pneumoconiosis inhaled the harmful dust as part of their working conditions. For this reason, the disease is considered an occupational lung disease. Occupational lung diseases are further broken down by the type of dust that led to their development, as follows:

  1. Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. Also known as black lung disease, this condition is caused by the prolonged inhalation of coal or carbon, and is the most common form of pneumoconiosis.
  2. Asbestosis. This condition is caused by the prolonged inhalation of asbestos.
  3. Silicosis. This condition is caused by the prolonged inhalation of silica.
  4. Bauxite fibrosis. This condition is caused by the prolonged inhalation of bauxite.
  5. Siderosis. This condition is caused by the prolonged inhalation of iron.

In addition to being an occupational lung disease, pneumoconiosis is also a restrictive lung disease. This is because the condition results in restriction of the lung capacity. This then causes labored breathing and less oxygenation of the blood.

Causes and Symptoms of Pneumoconiosis

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis is caused by coal dust particles entering the lungs and irritating the delicate lung tissue. Over time, these dust particles become imbedded around the bronchioles and alveoli in the lungs, and scarring occurs. If the case is serious, so many particles accumulate that they combine to form large black masses. These masses can result in significant scarring that makes it extremely difficult for the lungs to function normally. This is known as progressive massive fibrosis. Eventually, the lungs may actually fail.

Symptoms of the condition vary. The following is a list of the possible symptoms of this condition:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Coughing
  3. Chest pain
  4. Abnormal breathing
  5. Lung failure

Some people with pneumoconiosis, however, have no outward symptoms. The disease is diagnosed based on an evaluation of the patient’s history, including the patient’s history of prolonged exposure to and inhalation of dust. A medical professional may also order x-rays and CT scans to verify the presence of nodules that are caused by the imbedded dust particles.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits When You Have Pneumoconiosis

When a person has pneumoconiosis, there is unfortunately no treatment that can reverse it. Most people diagnosed with pneumoconiosis will actually see their condition worsen over time. This is true even if the individual is no longer exposed to the harmful dust.

Living with pneumoconiosis can create many challenges since it impacts a person’s ability to breathe. Fortunately, the condition is a recognized impairment by the Social Security Administration under its listing for diseases of the respiratory system. In order to qualify for benefits, you must show that you have one or both of the following:

  1. Loss of lung capacity
  2. Insufficient exchange of gases within the lungs

To prove that you have one or both of the above criteria, you must provide specific test results, including the following:

  1. Forced expiratory volume test
  2. Forced vital capacity test
  3. A test of the sufficiency of gas exchanges within the lungs using diffusing capacity

Your test results must show that you meet specific levels in order to qualify for a disability. In addition, it is important to provide the Social Security Administration with your medical history, a record of your examinations, and the imaging results of your lungs. The Social Security Administration specifically requires x-ray results and CT scans to provide evidence of the lung damage caused by pneumoconiosis.

If you suffer from pneumoconiosis, you may be unable to work as a result of your disability. Obtaining disability benefits can provide much needed financial relief. To improve your chances of qualifying for this important benefit, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced attorney. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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