COPD

How to Qualify for Social Security Benefits with COPD​​

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), also known as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, is a progressive lung disease characterized by increasing breathlessness. Symptoms include increased breathlessness, frequent coughing (with or without sputum), wheezing, and chest tightness.  

If you suffer from COPD, you can qualify for SSDI / SSI benefits in one of two ways: (1) meeting or equaling a medical listing, or (2) proving resulting limitations resulting in the inability to perform your past relevant work or any other work. 

Respiratory disorders are contained in Social Security listings 3.00 - Respiratory - Adult. A frequently encountered listing is 3.02 - Chronic Respiratory Disorders. That listing outlines specific requirements that must be found during a pulmonary function study (spirometry). These requirements primarily involve forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity readings.

The listing's preamble provides further details on spirometry:

Spirometry, which measures how well you move air into and out of your lungs, involves at least three forced expiratory maneuvers during the same test session. A forced expiratory maneuver is a maximum inhalation followed by a forced maximum exhalation, and measures exhaled volumes of air over time. The volume of air you exhale in the first second of the forced expiratory maneuver is the FEV1. The total volume of air that you exhale during the entire forced expiratory maneuver is the FVC. We use your highest FEV1 value to evaluate your respiratory disorder under 3.02A, 3.03A, and 3.04A, and your highest FVC value to evaluate your respiratory disorder under 3.02B, regardless of whether the values are from the same forced expiratory maneuver or different forced expiratory maneuvers.

Claimants with COPD often use supplemental oxygen. In these cases, it is important to provide medical documentation of this (i.e., a prescription). The need to use oxygen is compelling evidence of disability, particularly in non-listing level cases, because it substantially erodes the available occupational base.  

​The Hicks Law Firm assists claimants seeking disability for COPD. If you suffer from COPD and are unable to work, contact us for a free consultation.

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