If your doctor diagnosed you with a respiratory disorder and you cannot work because of your symptoms or the impairments it causes, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. This includes government benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.
If you need help understanding the benefits you qualify for or have questions about filing your application, the disability attorneys Berger and Green are here for you. Our legal team has more than four decades of experience and knows what it takes to qualify for SSD benefits. We can help you apply for benefits or represent you during the appeals process if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your initial claim. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for your complimentary consultation. We can help you understand disability for respiratory disorders in Pittsburgh.
When does a respiratory disorder qualify as a disability under SSA rules?
SSA disability examiners use the criteria outlined in a document called the Blue Book to understand which applicants meet their definition of disabled. The qualifications for respiratory disorders are in Section 3.00 – Respiratory Disorders.
In general, they look at how long you have been in your current condition, how long your condition may last, what prescribed treatments you use, and how you are responding to that treatment. Then, they address each diagnosis and the specific criteria listed for every impairment. The categories include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- Pulmonary fibrosis;
- Cystic fibrosis (CF);
- Chronic pulmonary hypertension;
- Lung transplants;
- Sleep apnea; and
- Other sleep-related disorders.
The criteria differ by diagnosis. For example, the criteria for those suffering from asthma involves having an FEV1 that is less than or equal to the value on a chart included in the impairment listings. In addition, you need to have suffered at least three asthma-related issues that required hospitalization within the last 12 months.
It can be confusing to determine if you meet the qualifications or not. This is especially true because these criteria often rely on technical measures of how well your lungs are functioning. We recommend discussing your condition with your doctor to learn whether or not you may meet these criteria. Remember, you may still gain approval even if you do not meet these guidelines.
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What medical evidence does the SSA need to approve my application?
The SSA needs to see your medical history, imaging scans, pulmonary function tests, and other relevant documentation in order to understand the nature and severity of your illness and impairments. Depending on your condition, your treatments, and how you responded to them, some pieces of evidence are more important than others.
Your medical imaging can play a key role in proving your condition, and may include x-rays and computerized tomography. Pulmonary function tests are also necessary for most impairments. This may include spirometry, DLCO tests, ABG tests, and pulse oximetry. If you are not sure if your medical record contains all the evidence necessary to prove your case, you may want to ask your doctor for help.
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What is a residual functional capacity and why is it important?
You may still meet the SSA’s definition of disabled even if you do not fulfill all the criteria included in the impairment listings. This relies on a measurement of your abilities, known as your residual functional capacity (RFC). To gain eligibility for SSD benefits, you need to have an extremely limited RFC.
The SSA assigns your RFC after analyzing your health status and impairments based on your medical tests, documentation from your doctor, and other proof. Your RFC is the measurement the SSA uses to determine if you are able to continue working your old job, work another job fitting your skillset, or work at another job that you can adjust to. If you lack the ability to work any of these jobs and earn a sustainable wage, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
What are the other qualifications to collect SSD benefits?While proving you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled is key in getting the benefits you need, it is not the only criteria you must meet. To get SSDI, you will also need to show:
- You cannot adjust to other work, taking your age and skillset into consideration;
- You currently earn less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, which is $1,170 for 2017; and
- You have enough work credits to qualify based on your age.
When it comes to SSI, there are no work credit requirements. The income and asset limits, however are much lower. They also take into consideration your entire household. To qualify for SSI, you cannot have an income of more than $735 for an individual or $1,103 per couple in 2017. Aside from your home, your car, and a few other exceptions, you will also not qualify if you have more than $2,000 in assets.
It is not always clear whether you meet the qualifications for a disability program. If you are working with one of our disability attorneys, we can help you determine if you should apply for SSDI, SSI, or another government benefit.
How can I talk to a disability attorney at Berger and Green?
Working with a disability lawyer can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Talk to Berger and Green before you apply to ensure you have strong support and medical evidence you need to prove your claim. If you filed on your own and the SSA denied your claim, we can help you appeal this decision.
We can handle your SSD claim from start to finish. Call today to learn more about how we can help you get the monthly benefits you need to deal with your respiratory disorder. You can reach our Pittsburgh office at 412-661-1400.