Until the mid-20th century, many people with cystic fibrosis did not survive childhood. Now, people with this genetic condition may live well into adulthood. They may go to school and have jobs, but there may come a time when cystic fibrosis treatments stop working. When this happens, people with cystic fibrosis may become permanently disabled and qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Eligibility for Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is one of the chronic qualifying conditions included in the Social Security Administration (SSA) Listing of Impairments. Cystic fibrosis patients suffer from an abnormally thick and sticky mucus buildup in the lungs and the pancreas. This life-threatening condition can cause very dangerous lung infections and serious problems in the digestive system.
The Social Security Administration provides several different ways for a person with cystic fibrosis to qualify for disability benefits. However, you only need to qualify in one way to get the benefits you deserve.
Social Security Listing of Impairments: Cystic Fibrosis Section 3.04
Section 3.04 of the Listing of Impairments explains how someone with cystic fibrosis may qualify for disability benefits. This section of the Blue Book provides six different ways that someone with cystic fibrosis may qualify for benefits, including:
- Difficulty breathing. The Social Security Administration will consider the results of your spirometry test. If the test reveals a low FEV1 based on your age, height, and gender, then you may qualify for disability benefits according to Section 3.04(A).
- Exacerbations or complications. If these complications require three hospitalizations at least 30 days apart but within 12 months, you may qualify for disability benefits pursuant to Section 3.04(B).
- Collapsed lung. If you have a spontaneous pneumothorax requiring a chest tube because of cystic fibrosis complications, then you may qualify for disability benefits according to Section 3.04(C).
- Respiratory failure. If you have respiratory failure that requires invasive mechanical ventilation, noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP, or both treatments, for at least 48 hours (or 72 hours if postoperatively), then you may qualify for disability benefits pursuant to Section 3.04(D).
- Pulmonary hemorrhage. A pulmonary hemorrhage that requires vascular embolization to control bleeding may qualify you for disability benefits according to Section 3.04(E).
- Low oxygen levels. If pulse oximetry testing measures your SpO2 as less than or equal to 89% (or lower at higher altitudes) at least twice in a 12 month period, with the tests occurring at least 30 days apart, then you may qualify for disability benefits pursuant to Section 3.04(F).
You should qualify for disability benefits if you meet any one of these standards and you submit a complete application to the Social Security Administration.
Other Ways to Qualify for Social Security Disability
You may qualify for disability benefits even if you don’t meet any of the standards outlined in Section 3.04. The Social Security Administration recognizes that some disabling conditions do not meet the specific criteria included in the Listing of Impairments. Accordingly, disability applicants may still qualify for benefits if one of the following is true:
- Their cystic fibrosis is equal in severity to another Blue Book listing
- Their cystic fibrosis keeps them from engaging in basic work-related activities for at least 12 months
A complete and accurate application with supporting evidence is required regardless of how you qualify for benefits.
How to Get the Social Security Disability Benefits You’ve Earned
Many initial Social Security disability applications are denied. You can avoid the stress, cost, and uncertainty of a denied application by hiring an experienced local Social Security disability lawyer to help you.
Keefe Disability Law only represents people in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We want to help our local community by:
- Gathering medical records and supporting documentation
- Filing complete, accurate, and easy to understand initial applications
- Handling any Social Security disability denials and related appeals
We will answer your questions when you call and provide you with the personal representation that you need during this challenging time.