Topic Categories:


Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Disability Denials and Filing Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits


SSDRC authored by

Ask a question, get an answer

COPD, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits




For more information on:   Social Security Disability and SSI Disability.



Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), is a disease characterized by permanent and progressive obstruction of the lung airways that makes it very difficult to breathe due to a lung disorder. The two most common forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Frequently these two diseases are overlapping and if a patient has one, they may have signs and symptoms of another. Asthma is also a type of pulmonary disease, but is only considered chronic and obstructive if it is damaging enough that the airway obstruction involved is fixed or permanent.

Breathing in dust, chemicals and other forms of pollution can also be a cause of the disease or at least contribute to it, but the most common reason for COPD is smoking tobacco. While there are treatments for COPD that make it more comfortable and can open the air passages temporarily, there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The best way to keep from contracting COPD is to not smoke cigarettes and stay away from second-hand smoke and harmful airborne pollutants. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, with 80-90 percent of COPD cases being caused by smoking.

COPD affects the lungs physically by causing the air sacs at the end of the airways to collapse or lose elasticity. This causes the air sacs to become floppy and have a hard time filling up with air, causing breathing challenges. Symptoms can range from shortness of breath and a persistent, reoccurring cough, to coughing up mucus, wheezing and intolerance for physical activity and exercise.

No single test alone can diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, though doctors will look at smoking history and environment (for second hand smoke or pollutants) as a way to detect COPD. They will also give a physical examination to determine symptoms of nostril flaring, wheezing, pursed lips, contraction of muscles when breathing and elevated respiratory rate. A spirometer can help determine loss of lung function, X-rays can show hyperinflation of the lungs, a chest CT can determine emphysema and blood tests can show low oxygen and/or high carbon dioxide in the blood. Pulmonary tests can show low airflow and over-expanded lungs.

Treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease usually includes varying types of bronchodilators, which help relax lung airways and allow temporary, improved airflow. Corticosteroids are sometimes used, as well as TNF antagonists, supplemental oxygen and a treatment of counseling, exercise, diet changes and disease management. Antibiotics can help lessen inflammation and infections.

Those with COPD must stop smoking. In extreme cases surgery is sometimes an option to help remove parts of the diseased lung or to conduct a lung transplant.















Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions





























Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews