About 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease that causes a person’s airways to narrow and become inflamed. This condition not only makes it difficult to breathe but it can also leave an individual in a situation where they are potentially unable to work.
Fortunately, for most asthma sufferers, their cases are relatively mild and can be modified and controlled through lifestyle changes and at-home treatment
When it reaches the point of interfering with your daily activities, asthma can be considered a disability.
Causes and Symptoms
Asthma causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, and during an attack your airways swell and tighten, which makes breathing difficult. Your lungs can also fill with mucus, making airflow even more difficult.
The medical community does not know for certain what causes asthma, but the predominant thought is that it’s probably some combination of genetics and environmental factors that brings on the disorder. Allergies also seem to play a role and working in an environment that’s heavy with dust and fumes can certainly aggravate the condition.
As with many diseases, asthma symptoms can vary from person to person, but in general, they include
- Recurring coughing and wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Pressure, tightness, or pain in the chest
These symptoms can, of course, vary from person to person, as can asthma attacks. Some individuals dealing with asthma have very mild symptoms but deal with them almost daily. Others have more serious, even life-threatening, attacks, followed by extended periods during which they have either mild symptoms or none at all.
Asthma and Social Security Disability Benefits
Asthma is considered a disability by both the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The question is, does your particular case of asthma qualify you for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
If you’re able to control your asthma fairly well with at-home treatment, while avoiding asthma triggers like pet dander and dust, the SSA considers you still able to work, and you’re not likely to qualify for benefits.
On the other hand, if your asthma attacks are more critical, sometimes requiring hospitalization and causing you to miss significant amounts of work, the SSA is more likely to consider you disabled and entitled to benefit payments.
Your initial application should include your asthma diagnosis, attempts to treat your condition, and relevant information from your medical history.
Automatic Qualification for Disability Benefits
Asthma can be a life threatening condition. If you can meet the criteria listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, the SSA will be able to automatically approve your claim for disability. The two requirements for automatic qualification are:
- In the past year, you’ve had at least three asthma attacks requiring hospitalization for at least 48 hours in each case. And these hospitalizations must have been at least 30 days apart.
- Your lung function test, known as FEV1, must be low for your age, gender, and height, according to the SSA’s Blue Book 3.03 listing.
In addition to these qualifications, if you also suffer from chronic bronchitis (known as chronic asthmatic bronchitis), you may also automatically qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Disability Benefits For Asthma: Job Restrictions
If you do not qualify automatically for benefits, you may be able to get either SSDI or SSI based on the limitations asthma imposes on your ability to perform your regular job.
In cases involving job restriction qualification for benefits, the SSA will prepare a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC), stating what you’re able to do and not do because of your health issues. As an example, your physician may have said you’re not able to perform functions such as
- Heavy lifting
- Working in extreme hot or cold conditions
- Working around heavy dust and fumes
In response to these medical restrictions, the SSA will attempt to determine if there is any other work you can do before granting you benefits.
Finally, if you’re over 50, you stand a better chance of qualifying for benefits because of job restrictions.
Applying for Asthma Disability Benefits
If you think you may qualify for benefits from the SSA because of asthma, you have several ways to apply. You can go to the nearest Social Security office, apply online, or apply by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213.
SSDI and SSI Disability Attorney in San Francisco, CA
When you decide to apply for asthma-related disability assistance from the SSA, your chances of receiving benefits are much greater if you hire an experienced social security disability lawyer.
Since opening his practice in 1976, attorney Patrick Kelly has helped countless individuals qualify for Social Security disability benefits in the bay area.
As your disability benefits attorney, he will explain the medical records needed to support your claim and will help you work through any difficulties that stand in the way of securing your benefits.
For reliable legal assistance in social security disability law, contact the law firm of Patrick Kelly today. We can help you submit your claim, file an appeal, and more. Contact the law office of Patrick Kelly today to schedule your initial free consultation.