What is Bronchitis
According to WebMD, “Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs bronchial passages becomes inflamed.” As the condition progresses, the membrane of the lungs can increase in size, limiting and narrowing the airways in the lungs. Workers with this condition may experience a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks, shortness of breath, chest pain, blood expectoration, fever, fatigue and increased mucus production.
What Causes Bronchitis?
The most common cause of acute bronchitis is a viral lung infection, although some variants are caused by a bacterial infection. If someone suffers repeated attacks the airways in the bronchial tubes can become weak and irritated. Other workers who frequently suffer from acute bronchitis are smokers, coal miners, metal molders, and grain handlers. Chronic bronchitis can be a serious long-term health risk that should be treated with good, consistent medical care.
Can I or will I get SSDI benefits for Bronchitis?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is awarded to workers who have a severe health condition, which is so serious they are unable to perform what the Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to as substantial gainful activity (SGA). Workers must also have worked and paid enough into the SSA system to be considered “insured.” Workers who are not insured will not get SSDI, regardless of the severity of their bronchitis.
How will the SSA determine if I am disabled?
The SSA has two methods for determining whether an applicant is disabled. First, they will review their condition and their corresponding symptoms and decide if they are severe as a condition listed on their SSA Listing of Impairments. If the claimant’s condition is not in the Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book) the SSA will determine if they have the residual functional capacity to work through a process known as a medical vocational allowance.
Bronchitis and the SSA Blue Book
The SSA Listing of Impairments does have a listing for respiratory disorders. To review all of the respiratory disorders you can review section 3.00 Respiratory System. Chronic asthmatic bronchitis is evaluated under listing 3.02 Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency. This is the listing that also includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). So for bronchitis and COPD the SSA will basically be evaluating the sufficiency of your air flow.
If you have severe bronchitis it is important that you see a pulmonary specialist. A pulmonary specialist can diagnosis your condition through x-rays, sputum culture and a pulmonary function test. During the pulmonary function test the doctor will have you blow into a spirometer. This device will measure the air in your lungs and how quickly you can get the air released (also called your forced expiratory volume (FEV1)). Under the listing for COPD your FEV1 measure “must be equal to or less than the values specified in the SSA table that corresponds to the individual's height without shoes.” See the listing for the specifics of each value.
The SSA will also determine how frequently your attacks occur. For instance, if you can prove that you have episodes of bronchitis or pneumonia or hemoptysis (more than bloodstreaked sputum) or respiratory failure (documented according to 3.00C, requiring physician intervention), and “in spite of prescribed treatment and requiring physician intervention, you have attacks occurring at least once every 2 months or at least six times a year" you may also be considered disabled by the SSA. Consider also that an in-patient hospitalization for longer than 24 hours for control of asthma counts as two attacks.
What if your condition does not meet a listing? It is time to talk to a disability lawyer.
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