COPD And Social Security Disability

What is COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?  It’s a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe.  Some of the symptoms are:

  • Coughing (may produce large amounts of mucus)
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

 

How can you obtain social security disability benefits if you have COPD?  The first way is to meet a listing.  You can find the listing here:

http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/3.00-Respiratory-Adult.htm

It is difficult often to meet a listing.

The other way is to show social security that you cannot work a full-time job based on your age, education and past work experience.  Generally, the older you are the easier it becomes to become eligible for social security disability.   The age at which it becomes easier is 50 and over.  You then may be able to use the grid rules to determine if you are disabled.  I discuss what grid rules are here: grid rules. However, the social security administration may not use the grid rules and decide you can return to one of the jobs you previously worked at in the past 15 years.  You have to show the social security administration that you cannot return to any of your previous jobs.  (You also have to do this if you are under the age of 50, unless you meet the listing.)  This depends on how severe your COPD is.

Many of my clients are on oxygen and have been hospitalized several times.  They became eligible for social security disability since they are unable to work a full time job.  They would be absent from work too often.  Other clients just have a mild form and can still perform a sedentary or light job.  A sedentary job means a job in which you spend most of your time in a sitting position.  A light job requires 6 hours of standing or walking out of an 8-hour work day.

This doesn’t mean all is lost.  Your doctor may not want you to spend most of your time standing or walking.  You may have other disabilities that along with the COPD allow you to still be eligible for social security disability.  Often a combination of physical or mental problems is what allows an individual to become eligible for social security disability benefits.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.