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Bronchiectasis is a condition that occurs when the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs get damaged, causing them to widen and become loose and scarred. These tubes are called airways. Bronchiectasis usually results from an infection or other condition that injures the walls of your airways or keeps the airways from clearing the mucus they make. The injured airways lose their ability to clear the mucus and then the substance builds up and becomes thick. This creates serious lung infections.

The injured airways and infections can become a vicious cycle. Each infection causes more damage to your airways. Over time, they lose their ability to move air in and out. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are important. The sooner your doctor starts treatment, the better the chances of preventing further lung damage.

Bronchiectasis can affect one section of a lung or many sections of both lungs. It often occurs with other lung conditions. In children, it commonly occurs with cystic fibrosis (50%-75% by 3-5 years of age). In adults, it may occur along with immune conditions, such as common variable immunodeficiency. It can also occur with other lung conditions in adults, such as severe COPD (35%-50% of the time) and severe asthma (25%-40% of the time). It can occur with many other conditions as well. When these conditions are present, it can cause serious health problems, including respiratory failure and heart failure.

Bronchiectasis. Doctor shows red sign with medical word on it. Blue background.


Yes. Bronchiectasis is a severe medical condition and benefits are available if you cannot work due to your  symptoms. In order to receive SSD and SSI benefits, however, your symptoms must be so severe that you cannot work for more than 12 months. This article discusses bronchiectasis and how to apply and win SSD benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).


There are two types of benefits you can receive from the SSA if you have bronchiectasis. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. SSDI benefits are for those who have a full time work history for five out of the last 10 years. The amount of your SSDI benefit depends on the amount of money you have earned.

In addition to SSDI benefits, you can win Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI benefits are a supplement. Therefore, they are for people with very limited resources and low income. In 2023, the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple. Here is some more information about SSA’s benefits:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, then you can only file for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets. If you have a spouse who earns more than $3000 a month, for example, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. You cannot be paid SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.


If you have bronchiectasis and you are “working,” then you do not qualify for SSD or SSI benefits. The SSA defines work using the term “substantial gainful activity.” This term describes a specific level of work activity and earnings.

Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full time basis. For example, part time work may also be SGA or “work.”

Many people think they can do part time work and still get SSD benefits. This is not true. If you can work part time, then the SSA will believe this is evidence that you can do full time work. Likewise, many people do not realize that even part time work can make them unable to receive SSI and SSD benefits.


The SSA generally uses earnings guidelines to evaluate whether your work activity is SGA. The amount of monthly earnings the SSA considers to be SGA depends on the nature of your disability. For example, the Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for persons who meet the definition of blindness. For more information about SSA rules on working and blindness, refer to SSA’s guide Working While Disabled: How We Can Help (Publication No. 05-10095).

As a general rule, you can usually can make no more than $1,470 ($2,460 if you are blind) a month in 2023 or the SSA will consider you to be working. However, the SSA does deduct the work expenses that you have due to your COPD when they look at your earnings.

If you have extra work expenses, then your earnings could be substantially higher than $1470 in 2023 before they affect your benefits. Additionally, the SGA amount usually increases each year. For example, the amount of monthly earnings for the SGA in 2023 is $1470 for workers. In 2024, the SGA amount is $1550.


Bronchiectasis is a chronic respiratory disorder with abnormal and irreversible enlargement of the airways below the trachea. This occurs along with the accumulation of mucus, bacterial infections, and eventual airway scarring.

The SSA will look at bronchiectasis under listing 3.02 or under 3.07, if you are having complications that require hospitalization.

Listing 3.07 Bronchiectasis

You must have bronchiectasis that can be seen on imaging. Additionally, you must have exacerbations or complications requiring three hospitalizations within a 12 month period and at least 30 days apart. Also, the 12 month period must occur within the period the SSA is considering in connection with your application for benefits. Each hospital visit must last at least 48 hours, including hours in a hospital emergency department immediately before the hospitalization.


As you can see, proving bronchiectasis is not easy to do. If you cannot work due your disease, then call Cannon Disability Law. We can help you apply for SSD and SSI benefits. We can also help you appeal an SSA denial. Additionally, we will represent you in court at your Social Security hearing. We will also help you testify in court about your symptoms.

At your hearing, the ALJ may invite a medical expert to testify about your bronchiectasis. The medical expert talks about  whether your bronchiectasis meets or equals listing 3.02 or 3.07. If that is the case, then you need an attorney to question the medical expert. Find out more about the medical expert at your hearing.

Furthermore, if you lose your case at hearing, then we can appeal your case to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is an appeal board that reviews cases throughout the entire country. If you already lost your case at the hearing, then you have 60 days to appeal to the Appeals Council. Find out more about your Appeals Council options.

Likewise, we file SSD appeals in Federal Court. Also, we can represent you no matter where where you live. For example, we can represent you if need an attorney in Utah or Nevada. Additionally, we can help you if you live in Idaho, Colorado, or California.

Moreover, your ability to receive Medicaid and Medicare depends upon whether or not you are successful in winning your SSDI and SSI claim. You are going to need health insurance to care for your COPD. Find out more information about Medicare benefits.


Medical Experts (ME) often testify at Social Security hearings. The ALJ calls them to review your medical records for bronchiectasis. Also, they explain your other medical conditions to the judge. Your attorney can request that an ME testify in court. This is, however, mostly done in complex medical cases.

The medical expert who appears at the hearing is not your treating doctor. The doctor at the hearing must have never met you before. Because, the ME is there to give testimony about your medical records and should not be for either side of the case.

Usually, the medical expert comes to the hearing. However, they can also testify by video or by telephone. It is also possible for an ME to answer written questions after the hearing. The judge sends written questions to the expert. The ME’s answers require review and possibly filing objections. If you do not know how to do this, then hire an attorney. Do not make the mistake of not preparing for the medical expert.


If your bronchiectasis does not meet or equal the above listing, then your RFC becomes important at your hearing. Find out more about your residual functional capacity. If you appear at a Social Security hearing before a judge, then a VE may testify at your hearing.

VEs are at your hearing to testify about the kinds of jobs you can perform. Also, they testify about the number of jobs available to someone with your medical condition. Learn more here about the role of the VE at the SSA hearing.

At the hearing, the ALJ asks questions of the VE. Then, the VE testifies if you can work with the physical or mental issues found by the ALJ. Likewise, your attorney also asks questions of the VE. That question is also based upon your testimony and your medical conditions.

At our law firm, we have the legal experience you need to question the VE. While your testimony and medical records are crucial to proving your bronchiectasis prevents you from working, you may want to have an attorney on your side. It is helpful, because the burden to prove that the SSA should pay you benefits is on you. Therefore, you may need an attorney to question the VE. Learn more about proving you deserve benefits.


In order to fight the SSA’s denials, you need a lawyer with experience. For example, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win SSDI benefits for over thirty years. Likewise, Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have many years of legal experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 Social Security hearings.

When you have bronchiectasis, it is hard to trust your future to a lawyer. We understand. That is why we include information about our attorneys on our website. Find out more about our lawyers and staff on our About Us page.

At our law firm, we can help you apply for benefits. Our experts who will help you complete your application. Usually, we help you file your application online on Social Security’s website. If you receive a denial, then we can help you appeal it.

Likewise, if your case is set for a hearing, then we represent you at your hearing before a judge. One of the things we do is help you testify at your hearing. For example, we meet with your before the hearing. At the meeting, we talk about how to answer questions. We also let you know what kind of questions you will be asked. Learn more about your Social Security hearing. Let us help you with your bronchiectasis case.

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