Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a specific form of Idiopathic interstitial pneumonia (IIP). Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) presents as a condition affecting the deep tissue of the lungs. It is called idiopathic because it has no known cause. As IPF progresses, the lungs grow thick, stiff and scarred. This scarring, or fibrosis, eventually renders the lungs unable to transfer oxygen to the bloodstream.
The effects can be devastating. Without proper blood-oxygen levels, the entire body begins to deteriorate. All organs, including the brain, progressively lose functioning. Without a normal oxygen supply, patients with IPF will eventually die.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) primarily affects people over age 50, with significant prevalence in people aged 75 and older. Roughly 20 in 100,000 people are affected by IPF.
Although Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) has no known cause, experts surmise that environmental factors, such as toxins, pollutants and infections, contribute to the condition. Some medications for cancer and heart problems are also associated with IPF. Experts also contend that some people develop IPF due to a genetic predisposition. This form of IPF is known as Familial Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (FIPF).
Symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
The common IPF symptoms include:
(1) Shortness of breath and hacking coughs
(2) Blue discoloration in the skin and fingernails
(3) Loss of weight, fatigue and lethargy
(4) Muscle and joint aches and pains
(5) Clubbing of the fingers and toes
More severe conditions may result, such as:
(1) Collapsed lungs and lung infections
(2) Lung blood clots and lung cancer
Treatment for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
Although Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) cannot be reversed, the scarring can be slowed. It is commonly treated with immune system suppressants and anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Prednisone. Cough medicines, calcium and Vitamin D are also used to treat coughing and gastroesophageal reflux. Some individuals receive oxygen therapy and even lung transplants, as the disease progresses.
Diagnosing Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
Physicians will typically use chest x-rays and HRCT scans, as well bronchoscopy, to find the extent of the lung scarring and damage. Arterial blood gas tests also help to determine the abnormal oxygen and carbon dioxide levels of the bloodstream.
Specialists will also use electrocardiograms (EKGs) to measure the electrical activity of the heartbeat. These are important because cardiac issues are often directly correlated with pulmonary problems. Physicians may also conduct a TB test to eliminate tuberculosis as a cause of coughing and chest symptoms.
Finally, specialists may also conduct biopsies. These are revealing because they detect conditions in the lungs, such as cancer, infection and inflammatory diseases.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) & Social Security Disability
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is categorized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) under section 3.02 – Chronic Respiratory Disorders. People with this condition have a typical survival rate of only 3 to 5 years. Given this grim prognosis, the SSA has made Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) one of 88 conditions listed for Compassionate Allowance. An individual with IPF can qualify for faster disability approval thanks to the guidelines of this SSA Compassionate Allowance.
When filing a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits, a person with IPF should provide ample medical evidence to the SSA. The SSA requires certain Medical Evidence of Record (MER) when evaluating an applicant for Social Security Disability benefits. The applicant should present a clinical history and diagnostic examination of specific impairments. Biopsy reports, pulmonary tests, echocardiograms, and arterial blood gas studies (ABGs) are highly important as well.
The SSA will typically enlist a physician experienced in the management of IPF to review this information. The patient’s response to treatment is also of critical import.
Getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits for IPF
Although the Compassionate Allowance expedites the SSDI application process, it does not guarantee approval. From time to time, a claimant under these guidelines will still get denied for Social Security Disability Benefits. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies a claim for benefits under Compassionate Allowance, there are several reasons.
Firstly, the application may have lacked necessary medical evidence. Secondly, the application may have been admitted incorrectly. Thirdly, the application may have lacked, or confused, other critical information. Finally, the application may have been misinterpreted by the adjudicator.
How Disability Attorneys Help With IPF Disability Claims
A qualified disability lawyer can help ensure that none of these problems occur. The best attorney for a social security case is an attorney who is thorough, prompt, and accomplished.
When a disability attorney manages a Social Security case, that attorney or advocate will seek all medical documentation necessary to solidify the claim. A consummate disability lawyer understands what the Social Security Administration (SSA) demands. Claimants with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) need to ensure that all steps of the process are undertaken correctly. A disability lawyer can help with those steps.
With a disability attorney assisting, IPF claimants can finally gain the benefits they need under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances guidelines.