Emphysema and Applying for Massachusetts SSA Disability Benefits

Along with chronic bronchitis, emphysema is one of the two main causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema sufferers find that they are often disabled by their illness and may choose to apply for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits. As Boston Social Security disability lawyers, we regularly help our clients with this process.

What is emphysema?

Emphysema is a disease of the lungs. It gradually destroys the air sacs in the lungs and causes shortness of breath. These air sacs are clustered in the lungs like bunches of grapes. Emphysema causes damage that, over time, reduces the lung surface area, causing a reduction in the oxygen that makes it to the rest of the body.

In addition, the airways leading to the air sacs are damaged. Commonly, sufferers have trouble getting the air out of their lungs after inhaling.

How do you know if you have emphysema?

Because emphysema develops slowly, over a long period of time, most people don’t know they have it until the disease has progressed. It begins with a shortness of breath that may not be noticed right away. But over time, the breathing problems make it more difficult to complete the tasks of daily living. 

You should seek medical attention as soon as you suspect you have emphysema. Treatment can slow the progress of the disease. But if your shortness of breath makes it hard to talk, you find a bluish cast to your lips or fingernails, you have trouble concentrating or you experience rapid heartbeat, you should call a doctor immediately.

What causes emphysema?

The major factor in developing emphysema is a long-term exposure to tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, pollution, fumes, or coal or silica dust. However, some people also lack a protein that protects the lungs. This is called Alpha01 antitrypsin deficiency emphysema

Basically, you are running a risk of emphysema if you smoke, are exposed to other people who smoke, work in a fume or dust filled environment, or are exposed to outdoor air pollution. The symptoms of emphysema usually begin in smokers ages 40-60.

When should you apply for SSA disability benefits?

If you suffer from emphysema, you may be fine working for a long period of time. But it is wise to consider that the day may come when you cannot work. Your doctor can help you determine the possible outcome of your disease. 

Because this ailment is included in the SSA Listing of Impairments, your emphysema may qualify for Massachusetts SSA disability benefits. And by planning ahead, you will do yourself and your family a favor.

Contact Keefe Disability Law to speak to a Boston Social Security disability lawyer. We can answer your questions and help you get started in the application process. Call us toll free today 888-904-6847 to speak to a specialist.

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