Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a general term for several lung diseases, mainly chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These diseases are characterized by obstructed airflow through the airways in and out of the lungs. Both cause excessive inflammatory processes that eventually lead to abnormalities in lung structure and limited airflow. Both are progressive conditions that worsen over time.
COPD symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. COPD also adds to the work of the heart, and can cause pulmonary heart disease. Treatment for COPD can include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and various medications. The only known successful cure for emphysema is a lung transplant, but very few patients with emphysema are healthy enough to survive the surgery.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a disability listing laying out the requirements for getting automatically approved for disability for various chronic respiratory disorders, including COPD. If you meet the requirements of this listing, you automatically qualify for benefits. If your condition isn’t severe enough to meet the requirements of the official listing, you may still be able to prove that your COPD reduces your capacity to breathe and exert yourself so much that you can’t work.
Many people who suffer from COPD have other serious medical problems as well, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or obesity, as well as mental issues such as depression. If you have multiple medical conditions that affect your ability to work, then you will have a better chance of getting benefits.
SSA’s respiratory listings: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/3.00-Respiratory-Adult.htm
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®