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ASTHMA DISABILITY BENEFITS

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a type of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) that involves inflammation of your lung’s bronchial tubes. When you have asthma, muscles in your bronchial tubes constrict due to irritation. Additionally, the inflammation causes excess mucus which narrows the bronchial tubes. The muscle constriction and the inflammation in your lungs makes it hard for you to breath. If you have an asthma attack, then you will experience shortness of breath, a tight chest, coughing, and wheezing.

According to the American Lung Association, 1 in 12 adults suffer from asthma. Asthma often begins during childhood, but it can occur at any time during life. Asthma is known by many names. For example, asthma is also known as bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, and reactive airways disease.

Asthma is a condition which can qualify for benefits. People with asthma can have trouble breathing that varies from mild to severe problems. For example, if you have severe asthma symptoms, you may have shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.

Over time, you may become unable to speak and get a blue color around your lips or in your fingernails. If you do not get treatment, then you can lose consciousness. Additionally, asthma attacks have also been known to result in death.

Asthma diagram with normal lung and asthmatic lung illustration

IS ASTHMA A DISABILITY?

Asthma is a common condition that causes people to apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, if your asthma can be controlled with medications, you will probably not be found disabled. It is when your severe asthma symptoms prevent you from working that the SSA will award disability benefits.

The SSA considers asthma a severe impairment when you need to be admitted to the hospital to receive asthma treatment. For example, you might not be able to breathe due to your asthma so the hospital might treat you with intravenous antibiotics. Depending on the severity and the number of hospitalizations you have, the SSA will determine your qualification for SSD and SSI benefits.

If you have an asthma disability, you can apply for two types of benefits:  Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits.

WHAT IS AN ASTHMA ATTACK?

An asthma attack occurs when the muscles around your airways tighten and create bronchospasm. When this happens, then the lining of your lung airways become inflamed and produce too much mucus. This mucus is also thicker than normal. Due to the combination of these factors, an asthma attack occurs and you have difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of a severe asthma attack include:

  • Severe wheezing
  • Coughing that you cannot stop
  • Rapid attempts to breathe
  • Chest pain or chest tightness. This may feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest or make you think you are having a heart attack.
  • Shortness of breath. Some people who have asthma say they can’t catch their breath or they feel like they can’t get air out of their lungs.
  • Difficulty talking
  • Anxiety and panic because you cannot breathe
  • Blue lips and/or blue fingernails

Typically, when symptoms like this occur, you will need immediate treatment. For example, if you have trouble breathing, you will quickly use an asthma inhaler or bronchodilator. An asthma inhaler puts medicine into your lungs that opens up the airways. Then, you will be able to breathe. If you cannot breathe after using your inhaler, then you need to go to a hospital right away.

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASTHMA?

According to the CDC, almost 25 million Americans have asthma. This means that about 1 in 13 Americans, about 8 percent of adults and 7 percent of children, have asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). 2019 National Health Interview Survey data. Read more CDC asthma information here.

Additionally, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America did a study that reports the highest rates of asthma deaths and hospitalizations occur in Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations.  The study found that Black Americans are nearly 1.5 times more likely to have asthma. Puerto Rican Americans are nearly 2 times more likely to have asthma.

Moreover, Black Americans were 5 times more likely to visit the emergency room due to asthma and they were 3 times more likely to die from an asthma attack. When the study looked at gender as a factor, it found that Black women had the highest rates of death due to asthma. Read more about asthma disparities here.

WHAT CAUSES ASTHMA?

Doctors do not yet understand the cause of asthma. However, they know that asthma symptoms are often the result of a strong immune response to something in the lungs.

For example, asthma attacks can be triggered by airborne irritants, allergies, exercise, cold air, cold viruses, and even emotional upset. Likewise, it is also possible for asthma attacks to occur for no apparent reason. For instance, many people file for asthma disability benefits due to all of the asthma triggers that exist in the workplace.

Your asthma doctor will help you find out which things trigger your asthma to flare up. For example, some common triggers are:

  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, or man made chemicals  in the work environment. Sometimes, even products such as hairspray or perfume can cause an asthma attack.
  • Allergens from animal fur, dust, mold, and tree, grass and flower pollen
  • Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Upper respiratory infections, such as viral colds
  • Physical activity, including exercise

Asthma symptoms are different for each person. For example, some of the triggers on the above list may not bother you. However, you may have other triggers that are not on the list. If you believe you have asthma symptoms that are causing you to be unable to work, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and possible treatment options.

DOES ASTHMA QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?

To determine if you should be paid asthma disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will first check to make sure you are not working. In order to win SSD benefits you cannot be working and your inability to work must last for over 12 months. Work has a specific definition for the SSA. If you need to find out more about the definition of work, then read here.

In order to qualify for asthma disability benefits, you will need to have a spirometry test. A spirometry test will measure how much air you breathe in and out. Additionally, it will also measure at what rate you breathe. In short, the spirometry test measures how much air you can force out of your lungs in one second. This end result of the test shows your FEV1.

To qualify for disability based on asthma, you will also need to provide them with at least 12 consecutive months of medical records that show how often and how long you were in the hospital because of your asthma attacks.

Your medical records will also need to show your history of asthma treatment. Likewise, the records need to show your compliance with your doctor’s treatment plan. Find out more here about the importance of medical records in your disability case.

SSA’S LISTING 3.03 FOR ASTHMA DISABILITY BENEFITS

SSA has a listing that you need to meet in order to win asthma disability benefits. Below, you will find the listing, which includes a table that outlines what your FEV1 must be in order to meet the listing. The table is also divided by height, age, and gender.

3.03 Asthma . (see 3.00I), with both A and B:

A. FEV1 (see 3.00E1) less than or equal to the value in Table VI-A or VI-B for your age, gender, and height without shoes (see 3.00E3a) measured within the same 12-month period as the hospitalizations in 3.03B.

 

Table VI: FEV1 Criteria for 3.03A

 

Height
without
shoes
(centimeters)
< means
less than
Height
without
shoes
(inches)
< means
less than
Table VI-A
Table VI-B
Age 18
to attainment of age 20
Age 20
or older
Females
FEV1
less than or equal to
(L, BTPS)
Males
FEV1
less than or equal to
(L, BTPS)
Females
FEV1
less than or equal to
(L, BTPS)
Males
FEV1
less than or equal to
(L, BTPS)
<153.0
<60.25
1.65
1.90
1.45
1.60
153.0 to <159.0
60.25 to <62.50
1.75
2.05
1.55
1.75
159.0 to <164.0
62.50 to <64.50
1.85
2.15
1.65
1.90
164.0 to <169.0
64.50 to <66.50
1.95
2.30
1.75
2.00
169.0 to <174.0
66.50 to <68.50
2.05
2.45
1.85
2.15
174.0 to <180.0
68.50 to <70.75
2.20
2.60
2.00
2.30
180.0 to <185.0
70.75 to <72.75
2.35
2.75
2.10
2.45
185.0 or more
72.75 or more
2.40
2.85
2.20
2.55

AND

B. Exacerbations requiring three hospitalizations within a 12 month period and at least 30 days apart (the 12-month period must occur within the period we are considering in connection with your application or continuing disability review). Each visit to the hospital must last at least 48 hours, including hours in a hospital emergency department immediately before the hospitalization.

The SSA will consider you under a disability for 1 year from the discharge date of your last hospital visit. After that, they will evaluate your residual impairments under 3.03 or another appropriate listing.

HOW DOES SSA EVALUATE ASTHMA?

Asthma disability benefits are hard to obtain. Typically, people win benefits when they have more than one medical condition along with asthma. However, SSA states that under the asthma listing 3.03, they will look at the following three factors:

    1.  Evidence showing that you have listing-level (see Table VI in 3.03A) airflow obstruction at baseline while you are medically stable.
    2. The phrase “consider under a disability for 1 year” in 3.03B does not refer to the date on which your disability began, only to the date on which the SSA must reevaluate whether your asthma continues to meet a listing or is otherwise disabling.
    3.  The SSA determines the onset of your disability based on the facts of your case. But, the onset date of your disability will be no later than the admission date of your first of three hospitalizations that satisfy the criteria of 3.03B.

WHAT MEDICAL EVIDENCE DOES SSA CONSIDER FOR ASTHMA DISABILITY BENEFITS?

In order to evaluate your disability, the SSA needs medical evidence that documents the severity of your asthma. Medical evidence that documents your asthma disability includes important items.

For example, the medical evidence should include your medical history. Additionally, the records should include the physical examination findings from your doctor. Also, you will want to send in the results of chest x-ray imaging (see 3.00D3).

Additionally, the SSA requires pulmonary function tests (see 3.00D4), including descriptions of any prescribed treatment and your response to it.

They also state the following:

  1. If you use supplemental oxygen, then we still need medical evidence to establish the severity of your respiratory disorder.
  2. Imaging refers to medical imaging techniques, such as x-ray and computerized tomography. The imaging must be consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice as the proper technique to support the evaluation of your asthma.
  3. Pulmonary function tests include:
  • spirometry (which measures ventilation of the lungs),
  •  DLCO tests (which measure gas diffusion in the lungs),
  • ABG tests (which measure the partial pressure of oxygen, PaO2, and carbon dioxide, PaCO2, in the arterial blood),
  •  pulse oximetry (which measures oxygen saturation, SpO2, of peripheral blood hemoglobin).

If you do not have these tests, then it is possible for the SSA to send to you to see one of their doctors for an asthma disability examination. SSA calls this a Consultative Examination. Find out more about Consultative Examinations here.

OBTAIN MEDICAL EVIDENCE FOR FREE OR LOW COST

If you are missing medical information, then you can make an appointment with your doctor. Your primary care doctor can refer you to a pulmonologist. A pulmonologist can order tests like a pulmonary function test. Spirometry is the most common type of breathing test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs. It also tests how easily and how fast you can the blow the air out of your lungs. Your doctor should order a spirometry test if you have shortness of breath or a cough.

This type of medical evidence helps you win your case. However, if you can’t afford to see a doctor, then you still have options.

For example, for those who live in Utah, we have a list of free and low-cost health resources you can contact for asthma treatment. Likewise, if you live in Nevada, we provide a list of Nevada’s free and low cost health resources to help you find a doctor. Additionally, we have a list of free health resources for those who live in Colorado.

Additionally, if you cannot afford treatment, you can request that SSA send you to one of their doctors. This is a consultative examination. You can visit one of SSA’s doctors for free. They will write a report about your asthma. Further information about consultative examinations can be found on on this website.

OBESITY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR ASTHMA DISABILITY CASE

The SSA states that obesity is a medically determinable impairment that is often associated with respiratory disorders such as asthma. Obesity makes it harder for the chest and lungs to expand. Therefore, obesity compromises the ability of your lungs to supply oxygen to your body.  If you have both obesity and asthma, then find out more about obesity and disability here.

The combined effects of obesity with asthma can be greater than the effects of each of the medical conditions alone. As a result, the SSA considers any additional effects of your obesity when they evaluate whether you are eligible for asthma disability benefits.

SSA also considers whether you have asthma and a combination of other impairments that medically equals the severity of a listed impairment. The SSA awards asthma disability benefits when the combination of your impairments equals a listing.

If you do not meet or equal a listing, then the SSA will also assess your residual functional capacity. If you need to find out more about winning disability benefits, then read more about your residual functional capacity here.

CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE AND DISABILITY

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes several lung diseases that damage your lungs. These diseases block airflow and affect your ability to breathe.

Typically, when a doctor refers to COPD, they mean lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. Just like asthma, these lung conditions cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Therefore, COPD like asthma, can cause disability.

The most common cause of COPD is smoking. If you quit smoking, then your lung symptoms may improve. However, that is not always true. Like asthma, COPD is diagnosed through a spirometry test. Asthma can also be partly diagnosed by a prebronchodilator and post bronchodilator spirometry test. Smoking is also the most common cause of lung cancer. For information about disability benefits for lung cancer, read here.

However, unlike asthma, the SSA looks at COPD under listing 3.02 for Chronic pulmonary insufficiency. If you need to learn more, then you should read about COPD and disability benefits. Similarly, you can learn about Black Lung Disability benefits here.

WHAT EVIDENCE PROVES YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY?

If you cannot meet listing 3.03, then the SSA will examine your medical records to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). They will take into account what your doctor states in your medical records. Also, the SSA will review any statements from your doctors. They will also review any medical opinions from the SSA consultative examiners. See§ 416.946.

Other medical conditions beyond asthma, like obesity and COPD, can impair your RFC.

The SSA will also consider descriptions about your asthma from you, your family, neighbors and friends. 20 C.F.R. § 416.929. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about the impact and effects of your chronic lung symptoms. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work. Also, find out more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines here.

CANNON DISABILITY CAN HELP YOU WIN YOUR ASTHMA DISABILITY CASE

If you have asthma, then you may need to hire an attorney to help you win your SSDI case. In order to hire Cannon Disabilit, all you need to do is call. Or, you can contact us on this website. We offer a free review of your case over the phone. And, it doesn’t cost anything to call us. Better yet, it also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us.

Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your asthma case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win your SSD case, you pay the attorney fee out of your back benefits. If you do not win, then there is no attorney fee to pay.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay those costs. Typically, those costs are less than $100. Once we win, you pay your attorney free from your back benefit. For instance, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. Therefore, the only way to pay us, is for us to win your case. That is our goal. We want to win your asthma benefits case.

CANNON DISABILITY LAW’S REPRESENTATIVES

If you want to hire us to represent you in your asthma disability case, then you may want to learn more about the attorneys at our law firm. You can learn more on our About Us page.

For instance, you may want to know that Dianna Cannon has been practicing Social Security law for thirty years. Likewise, Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have also won thousands of disability clams. Many of those cases have been asthma disability cases. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients.

Above all, in order to win your asthma case, you need the support of your doctor. For example, you need a good relationship with your doctor. Also, you need to ask your doctor for help in your case. If you don’t have a doctor, we will do our best to help you find a free or low-cost health clinic where you live. Because the burden of proof is on you to prove you deserve benefits, you need a statement about asthma disability from your doctor. We have lists of free and lost cost healthcare clinics in Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

HIRE AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER TO WIN YOUR ASTHMA DISABILITY CASE

When you hire our firm, you have an experienced lawyer proving your asthma problems to the judge. In the past 30 years, our attorneys have won thousands of cases at the hearing level. It isn’t easy to be a witness at your own hearing. However, when you have an attorney, they can help you understand what kinds of questions you will need to answer.

Additionally, at the hearing you attorney can question the vocational expert. We can also question the medical expert. If you need to know more about the vocational expert, then read here.

If we don’t win cases at the hearing level, then we often appeal unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council. We can also appeal an unfavorable decision to Federal District Court. Because we work with our clients as part of a team effort, we are usually successful in our cases. If you need more information because you already lost your hearing, go here. You do have options. For example, you may be able to apply again. Filing a new application is possible if you do not have a date last insured issue. Learn more information about your date last insured here.

We are also members of NOSSCR, which is an organization of disability attorneys. We attend NOSSCR conferences every year to make sure we are up to date on Social Security law. Also, as NOSSCR members, we talk to Congress and ask them to change the law to be in favor of our clients.

HOW WE HELP YOU WIN YOUR ASTHMA DISABILITY CASE

Additionally, our application specialists can help you apply for SSD and SSI disability benefits using SSA’s website. For instance, we can also help you collect medical evidence for your asthma disability case. You do not have to obtain benefits for asthma on your own. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you through the appeal stages of the Social Security appeal process.

When you leave that up to us, you can focus on your health. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

Cannon Disability represents clients in many states. For example, we have clients in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. You can find out more about Nevada disability benefits here. Likewise, you can learn more about Utah disability benefits here. California disability benefits information is also on our website.

Additionally, we have clients in Idaho and Colorado. Learn more about Idaho disability benefits here. No matter where you live, we want to be your disability legal team. Call now. We will answer your questions about winning your asthma disability case.

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