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Cystic Fibrosis: How to Qualify for Social Security Disability

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease of the mucus and sweat glands. It affects mostly the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses and sex organs. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can become challenging to breathe. The thick mucus also traps bacteria in the airways, which can result in infections and inflammation and often leads to severe lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis in the lungs include productive coughing, high blood pressure, and pulmonary hypertension. Also, excessive mucus in the digestive tract can prevent CF patients from getting proper nutrition from their food, and they even lose minerals through their sweat. Sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, have also been shown to be common in patients with cystic fibrosis, which can affect their health negatively.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an impairments listing manual (called the blue book) which includes an official disability listing for Cystic Fibrosis. CF is evaluated under medical listing 3.04 in the Blue Book. SSA will automatically approve disability benefits for Claimant’s suffering from CF who have frequent lung infections or reduced lung function, as proven on spirometry tests. To qualify for automatic approval of benefits, you must have one of the following:

  • Poor breathing test – Spirometry test results that show an FEV1 of between 1.45 and 2.05, depending on your height. FEV1 is how much air you can exhale in one second.
  • Pulmonary exacerbations – Repeated episodes of bronchitis, pneumonia, hemoptysis, or respiratory failure requiring physician intervention. The incidents must occur every other month or at least six times per year.
  • Chronic infections –  Chronic lung infection with increased bacterial infections occurring at least once every six months that require antibacterial treatment intravenously or by nebulizer.

If you do not meet or equal listing 3.04, you can also qualify for disability benefits if you can show that your symptoms make it impossible to do full-time work. For instance, you may require lengthy daily treatments to control your CF, such as nebulizer treatments. If you would need frequent breaks or extended time away from work during the day to undergo treatment for your CF, the SSA may agree you are unable to work full-time.

Premier Disability Services, LLC has extensive experience assisting claimants who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis obtain Social Security Disability benefits.  If you suffer from Cystic Fibrosis and you are unable to work, please contact our office for a free evaluation.