Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Social Security Attorneys Guiding Individuals in Massachusetts

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term used to describe serious and disabling respiratory conditions, including bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is increasingly common throughout the United States, due in part to the popularity of smoking. According to the American Lung Association, nearly 13 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD, while an estimated 24 million experience symptoms that are precursors to COPD, including impaired lung function. The consequences of a COPD diagnosis may be severe. It is currently the third-leading cause of death in the United States. The American Lung Association has also reported that over half of all individuals suffering from COPD report that the disease has limited their ability to work. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security lawyers work with people throughout Massachusetts in seeking the disability benefits that they need.

COPD and Disability

The range of illnesses covered by the term COPD is broad and may include anything from moderate bronchitis to severe emphysema. Thus, not all COPD sufferers will qualify for disability benefits. However, those who can prove that their disease greatly limits their ability to work or prevents them from working can potentially obtain SSDI, particularly if they can meet the requirements for the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s disability listing 3.02.

The SSA’s disability listings are a list of diseases or illnesses and the symptoms that an individual must experience as a result of that disease in order to automatically qualify for benefits. Listing 3.02 is the chronic pulmonary insufficiency listing, under which COPD is evaluated. Individuals with decreased lung function can meet this listing if their spirometry test results fall below the thresholds listed. The spirometry test measures the volume of air that an individual can exhale in one second, and the thresholds under 3.02 vary depending on the height of the individual.

Alternatively, an individual can also qualify for disability under Listing 3.02 if he or she can show that his or her lungs do not properly oxygenate the individual’s blood. This is done through a variety of test results that measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Since these tests, and the results, are often highly technical, it can be helpful to consult with your physician and an attorney specializing in SSDI before applying for benefits.

Limited Capacity to Work

If your COPD inhibits your ability to work but has not resulted in the test results described above, there are alternative avenues to qualifying for disability. You can seek a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC), which evaluates your medical condition, the limitations it imposes on your daily activities, and whether such limitations prevent you from working. Under an RFC assessment, you would need to provide extensive medical evidence of the symptoms of your COPD, including medical opinions and evaluations from your treating physicians. If the SSA determines that, in light of your symptoms, you are unable to hold a job in any industry in the U.S., you will likely qualify for disability benefits.

Enlist a Massachusetts Lawyer When Seeking Government Benefits

If you or a loved one are currently suffering from COPD, you may find that even the most basic daily tasks become a challenge as you struggle to breathe deeply or feel that you are constantly gasping for air. Often, these limitations make it difficult to engage in physical activity, or even to sit at a desk for prolonged periods. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits attorneys are experienced in pursuing SSDI eligibility for Massachusetts residents. We are based in Boston and serve individuals from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Middlesex, and Plymouth Counties, as well as the Merrimack River area. Contact our office for more information at 800) 367-0871 or online.