Breathing Machine to Help With Respitory FailureYou’ve been diagnosed with respiratory failure. Your lungs are not providing enough oxygen to your blood or removing enough carbon dioxide from your blood. Sometimes, both complications occur. Your life has changed. You may be unable to work, but there may be help available to you.

What Is Respiratory Failure?

Respiratory failure is often categorized as follows:

  • Acute respiratory failure: acute respiratory failure develops quickly and is a medical emergency
  • Chronic respiratory failure: chronic respiratory failure is an ongoing medical issue that requires regular medical attention.
  • Type 1 respiratory failure: Type 1 respiratory failure, also known as hypoxemic respiratory failure, occurs when you aren’t getting enough oxygen in your blood.
  • Type 2 respiratory failure: Type 2 respiratory failure, also known as hypercapnic or hypercarbic respiratory failure, occurs when you have too much carbon dioxide in your blood.

Many different medical issues can lead to respiratory failure, including:

  • An illness such as Covid-19, pneumonia, or COPD
  • A chest injury
  • Another medical condition such as scoliosis, stroke, or a blood clot

Symptoms of respiratory failure include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Rapid or really slow breathing
  • Confusion, sleepiness, or loss of consciousness
  • Fingernails, lips, or skin that turns a blueish tint

If your doctor suspects that you might have respiratory failure, then a pulse oximetry test will be done to measure your blood oxygen levels and an arterial blood gas test may be done to measure your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Other diagnostic tests, such an X-ray, may also be done.

Treatment for respiratory failure includes medications, oxygen therapy, ventilator support, a tracheostomy, and other medical interventions.

Social Security Disability Eligibility for Respiratory Failure

Respiratory failure can be a permanent disability that keeps you from working. If you’ve paid into the Social Security system, then you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the requirements of Listing 3.14 in the Listing of Impairments or otherwise qualify because of your medical condition.

Blue Book Listing 3.14: Respiratory Failure

If you suffer from a chronic respiratory disorder other than Cystic Fibrosis (which has its own listing), then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you require:

  • Invasive mechanical ventilation
  • Noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP
  • Combination of both invasive mechanical ventilation and noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP

These treatments must be provided:

  • Continuously for at least 48 hours or continuously for 72 hours if postoperatively
  • At least twice within 12 months
  • At least 30 days apart

Other Ways to Qualify for Social Security Disability with Respiratory Failure

Sometimes you may suffer significant medical complications of respiratory failure without meeting the technical requirements of Listing 3.14. If this happens to you, then you still deserve Social Security disability benefits, and you may prove your eligibility by:

  • Showing that your medical condition is equal in severity to Blue Book Listing. If you can prove that your respiratory failure has the same impact on your life as any other Blue Book listing, then you should receive Social Security disability benefits.
  • Convincing the Social Security Administration that you can’t work because of your medical condition. The Social Security Administration will consider your age, education, work experience, and medical condition to determine whether you can work the job you did before getting sick or any other job.

How to Get Your Fair Social Security Disability Benefits

Not everyone with respiratory failure qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. You may have already worked for some time with your illness, but now things may have changed. Now, you can’t work, and you want to get the Social Security disability benefits you’ve earned with as little stress as possible.

The truth is, however, that most initial Social Security disability applications are denied. Often, they are denied for technical reasons and not because the applicant doesn’t qualify for benefits. Our experienced New England Social Security disability lawyers can help you complete a complete initial application with all of the required documentation, or if your initial application is denied, then we can help you get benefits that you’ve earned on appeal.

Learn more about your rights during a free consultation with our office. You can reach us by phone or through this website at any time.

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