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Respiratory Diseases and Social Security and SSI Disability Benefits for Pennsylvania Residents

Individuals applying for Social Security Disability must demonstrate the severity of their disabling condition and its impact on their daily activities.  Generally, qualifying for total, long-term disability benefits requires showing that you are incapable of performing work you previously performed, that you cannot adjust to other work available to people of your educational level, and that your suffering due to your disability will last over a year or result in your death. Like other potential disabilities, many respiratory problems fall within these broad guidelines.

New Criteria in Evaluating Respiratory System Disorders

In June, the Social Security Administration updated criteria in its Listing of Impairment regulations that are used to evaluate claims for respiratory disorders in adults and children.  According to Social Security, these revisions reflected updated medical knowledge and program experience.   The Office of the Federal Register listed the Final Rule for revising these criteria on their website. This rule states that the revisions included public comments and relied on information from medical experts in the pulmonology field, as well as experts in other related fields.

The purpose of the revision was to update the criteria used to evaluate claims under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. For example, concerning cystic fibrosis, the recommendation was adopted to include treatment outside the hospital.  The new guideline states that over 10 consecutive days of intravenous antibiotics given in or outside a hospital is considered “treatment.”

Respiratory disease under Social Security rules is defined as a disease that triggers attacks lasting over one day, taking place at least six times a year, and requiring “intensive treatment” and follow up medical care.  Some types of respiratory problems that are considered for Social Security Disability and have specific SSA guidelines are:

Emphysema:  Individuals who apply for SSA with emphysema suffer damaged lung tissue.  Commonly, a symptom of emphysema is a chronic cough.  Smoking cigarettes may cause emphysema.  Qualifying for Social Security Disability with emphysema requires showing that you follow your doctor’s instructions and are undergoing and participating in treatment and prescribed medication.

Restrictive Lung Disease:  This is a disease that prevents your lungs from properly exchanging gases and ventilating.  As a consequence, your blood lacks adequate oxygen. Restrictive Lung Disease may be caused by bacteria or viruses, but it typically results from inhaling harmful substances like asbestos.  Those who suffer from Restrictive Lung Disease and seek Social Security Disability must show that the disease makes it impossible to accomplish meaningful work.

Asthma:  In order to qualify for Social Security Disability as an asthma sufferer, it must affect daily activities and ability to work.

If you or a loved one suffers from a respiratory problem, and you believe you may qualify for Social Security Disability, it is important to begin the claims process early.  At Needle Law, our Pennsylvania attorneys are skilled in the process of seeking Social Security Disability benefits. Our experienced attorneys are available to provide information and guide you through this process. Contact our office for a free consultation by calling 570-344-1266.

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