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COPD and Social Security Administration Disability

Cardiac Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a progressive disease that can make it difficult for individuals to breathe. It can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing which can produce large amounts of mucus. If COPD is severe enough it can be difficult to manage and sufferers are often unable to maintain employment as a result of the effects of the disease.

Is COPD considered disabling according to the Social Security Administration? Claimants may be able to win Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits by either meeting a listing on the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments or by proving they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity as defined by the Social Security administration.

Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance by Meeting a Listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments


To see if you “meet a listing” you can review the criteria under 3.00 Respiratory System – Adult.  COPD is generally evaluated under the listing for Asthma which is 3.03 Asthma. Under this listing the claimant must have been diagnosed with chronic asthmatic bronchitis which is evaluate under the criteria for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Section 3.02A.

Claimants may also have attacks which occur, in even though they are following their doctor’s prescribed treatment plan and these attacks must require medication intervention. The attacks must occur at least once every 2 months or at least 6 times a year.

If the patient has an in-patient hospitalization for longer than 24 hours for control of asthma counts as two attacks, and an evaluation period of at least 12 consecutive months must be used to determine the frequency of attacks.

What if my COPD condition does not meet the Social Security Administration’s Listing can I still get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income?


What is your COPD condition does not meet the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments you may be able to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits by proving you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a process called a medical vocational allowance to make this determination.

How do you prove you cannot work? The most important thing is to see your doctor regularly and to document your COPD symptoms.  Make sure the doctor writes down all of your COPD symptoms and verify they are legible and in your medical file.  Your medical records should clearly document your work limitations caused by your COPD condition.

For instance:

All of these limitations may eliminate your ability to work, not only past jobs, but also perform new work. Contact a disability lawyer if you have questions about how you can receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.
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