Is Emphysema A Disability?
People who live with a disability often find that they are unable to engage in activities that they once enjoyed. In addition to this loss of quality of life, the limitations of disability may make it impossible for a person to complete work tasks. When a person is unable to work due to a disability, the resulting financial strain causes overwhelming stress. Fortunately, social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to qualified individuals.
SSDI benefits are paid out to people who have contributed to the insurance program throughout their work history. Paycheck deductions are used to fund the program, and the federal government manages the remitted funds to ensure that those who are truly unable to work receive much-needed assistance. In order to qualify, an applicant must have contributed to the program by working for a minimum number of years based on the applicant’s age. Work history must be recent, and the general rule is that a person must have worked a minimum of five of the past 10 years.
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a progressive disease that causes permanent damage to the air sacs found throughout the lungs. As the condition progresses, sufferers have a harder time breathing. Emphysema and other progressive respiratory illnesses are collectively referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
When a person suffers from emphysema, the tiny air sacs in the lungs become more and more damaged. Eventually, these air sacs will rupture. When the tiny sacs rupture, larger sacs remain in their place. Since there is a smaller surface area over which oxygen can travel in this larger sac, emphysema affects how much oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema. When a person has this condition, shortness of breath is the most noticeable symptom. Eventually, emphysema causes complications like an inability to exert the energy needed to climb stairs, blueness in the face or around the nails and loss of cognitive function.
Emphysema is not a reversible disease, but there are treatment options available. These options include inhalers, antibiotics, and weight loss. In later stages, supplemental oxygen may become necessary. Doctors may also use surgical intervention to decrease lung size for efficiency or complete a lung transplant.
Getting Social Security Disability Benefits for Emphysema
The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists COPD as a recognized disability. In order for a person to qualify for benefits with emphysema, the applicant must prove that the disability has progressed to the point at which shortness of breath is severe enough to make working impossible.
Medical records will be used by the SSA to determine whether a person is eligible for benefits. For this reason, it is essential for every applicant to seek regular treatment from a licensed medical professional. Thorough records should be completed, and information about the date of diagnosis and results of tests related to lung function must be submitted.
Getting Help from an Attorney for Emphysema Disability
Navigating the SSDI benefits application process is difficult and overwhelming to do alone. Disabled individuals who should be focused on finding a way to manage their symptoms, reduce pain and lessen the risk of complications often get caught up in collecting medical evidence and filling out paperwork for their application.
Nearly 70 percent of first-time applications are denied, and it is difficult to appeal a decision made by the SSA. Many denials relate to errors made on the part of the applicant. An SSDI attorney has the skill, experience and knowledge needed to guide applicants through the process. Hiring a legal professional takes much of the weight off of the shoulders of the applicant. To get started on the path to a smoother SSDI application process, consult with a lawyer.