COPD, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits

Social Security impairment listing 3.02, addresses Chronic respiratory disorders, including A. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, B. Chronic restrictive ventilatory disease, C. Chronic impairment of gas exchange due to clinically documented pulmonary disease, and D. Exacerbations or complications requiring three hospitalizations within a 12-month period and at least 30 days apart.

You can satisfy the requirements for listing 3.02, Chronic respiratory disorders, by meeting the A, B, C, or D criteria.

This section can be found in full at: What are the requirements to be approved for disability with COPD?. To read more about the condition itself, continue below.

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.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related Body System Impairments:

Asthma and Filing for Disability
Asbestosis and Filing for Disability
Bronchiectasis and Filing for Disability
COPD and Filing for Disability
Cystic Fibrosis and Filing for Disability
Emphysema and Filing for Disability
Lung Disease and Filing for Disability
Pneumonia and Filing for Disability
Sarcoidosis and Filing for Disability
Sleep Apnea and Filing for Disability
Tuberculosis and Filing for Disability
COPD, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Asthma, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Applying for disability in Illinois
Disability Lawyers in Illinois
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Illinois?