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ASTHMA DISABILITY BENEFITS

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a condition which can qualify for disability benefits. The reason asthma can be disabling is that it is a chronic respiratory condition of the airways and lungs. Asthma causes continuous inflammation in the lung’s airways and makes it difficult to breathe. Because of this chronic inflammation, the lung’s airways become swollen and produce extra mucus. As a result, any minor trigger can cause further constriction in the lung’s airways and breathing becomes difficult.

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

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, approximately 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. 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 disability, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and possible treatment options.

DOES ASTHMA QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?

To determine if you are eligible for asthma disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will first check to make sure you are not working. In order to be eligible for 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 be eligible for 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 or complications 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 hospitalization 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 the last hospitalization. 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, claimants win benefits when they have more than one disabling impairment 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 THE 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, your doctor’s physical examination findings, and 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.

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 impairments 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 pre-bronchodilator and post-bronchodilator spirometry test.

However, unlike asthma, the SSA evaluates 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.

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 disability case. In order to hire Cannon Disability Law, all you need to do is call. Or, you can contact us on this website. We offer a free consultation 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 disability 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 disability 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 representatives at Cannon Disability Law. 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 disability 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 disability 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 disability, you need a statement about asthma disability from your doctor.

HIRE A LAWYER WITH EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR ASTHMA DISABILITY CASE

When you hire our firm, you have an experienced lawyer proving your asthma disability to the judge. In the past 30 years, our attorneys have won thousands of cases at the hearing level. At the hearing, we cross-examine the vocational expert. Also, we question the medical expert’s testimony. 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 and in 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.

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 disability law. Also, as NOSSCR members, we talk to Congressional representatives and ask them to change disability 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 SSI disability benefits using the SSA’s website. However, we will need your help to apply for asthma SSI benefits. Why? Because only you know your personal financial information. SSI benefits are only available to those with very few assets and low income.

Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. We can also help you collect medical evidence for your asthma disability case. Additionally, there are many forms that will need to be filled out. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, then we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call today.

Moreover, we represent clients in many states. For example, we have clients in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. Find out more about Nevada disability benefits here. Likewise, learn more about Utah disability benefits here. California disability benefits information is also on our website. We also have clients in Idaho and Colorado. No matter where you live, we want to be your disability legal team. Call now. We will answer your questions about how to win your asthma disability case.

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