SSDI Benefits for Respiratory ConditionsRespiratory conditions can greatly impact a person's ability to work, and as a result, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits to those who meet the eligibility criteria. However, not all respiratory conditions are considered disabling under the Social Security Administration's Blue Book. In order to qualify for benefits, the condition must be so severe that you are unable to work. When applying for Social Security Disability, it is advisable to speak with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the application process.

Respiratory Conditions That May Qualify for Benefits

The SSA’s Blue Book lists impairments that may qualify for benefits. In section 3.00, you can find the list of respiratory disorders. These include several lung diseases, plus other conditions. The list describes criteria for what is serious enough to merit approval of your claim. The SSA also considers the combined effect if you have more than one condition.

It's important to note that having a respiratory condition alone is not enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. The severity of the condition and its impact on the person's ability to work are taken into consideration.

Here are some common respiratory conditions listed in the Blue Book that may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits:

  • Asthma. A mild case of asthma likely won’t qualify. You may need to have been under medical observation for at least a year. If, after a year of treatment, you still have severe asthma attacks, you may qualify. This might include at least three hospitalizations or six major attacks in a year. 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD describes more than one condition. Examples include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This is when you have difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. The symptoms must be severe enough to keep you from working full-time. 
  • Cystic fibrosis. To qualify, the SSA looks for at least six episodes of severe symptoms in a year. This includes coughing up blood, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Persistent lung infections may also qualify you for benefits. 
  • Lung transplant. If you receive a lung transplant, SSA will consider you disabled for one year. After that, SSA will reconsider your case to see if you still qualify. 
  • Sleep disorders. If you have a breathing disorder related to sleep, like sleep apnea, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. 
  • Lung cancer. By definition, this affects the respiratory system. Other related cancers can also qualify for SSDI benefits. 

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. If you have a rare disease not listed in the Blue Book, you may still qualify for disability. An experienced lawyer can help improve your chances of approval. 

Other respiratory disorders that may qualify include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Chronic restrictive ventilatory disease
  • Chronic lung infections
  • Chronic pulmonary hypertension
  • Chronic pulmonary insufficiency (CPI)
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)
  • Respiratory failure
  • Sarcoidosis

Supporting Evidence You Need to Provide

When applying for SSDI benefits due to a respiratory condition, you will need to provide medical evidence that supports your claim. This evidence may include:

  • Medical records from your treating physicians, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and medications prescribed.
  • Pulmonary function test results that measure your lung capacity and the severity of your respiratory impairment.
  • Imaging studies, such as chest X-rays or CT scans, that show the extent of your respiratory impairment.
  • Reports from any hospitalizations, surgeries, or other medical procedures related to your respiratory condition.

It's important to provide thorough and up-to-date medical records, as well as any additional evidence that may support your claim since the main challenge is proving you are disabled. Other evidence that can be used to support your claim may include statements from coworkers or supervisors regarding the impact of your condition on your work performance.

In addition, you will also need to meet technical requirements. This includes earning enough Social Security work credits. You must also not engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Share what information you have with a disability attorney. They can walk you through what is needed. 

A Disability Lawyer Can Help With Your Application

Navigating the SSDI application process can be challenging, especially when it comes to gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim. An experienced SSDI attorney can help ensure that your application is complete and includes all the necessary medical evidence to support your claim. 

With years of experience, the attorneys at Keefe Disability Law know all about SSDI claims and what it takes to get approved. We can carefully assess your case and see if your respiratory condition meets a Blue Book listing. If it doesn’t, we can seek paths to help you get approved for SSDI

Patrick Hartwig
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Managing Attorney, Keefe Disability Law