Published on: April 17, 2018
There wasn’t a whole lot of talk about COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, until recently. Now, commercials for COPD medications and treatment consume the airwaves; Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac, right Boomers? But for many, we’re wondering what is COPD, who is affected by it, and is Social Security Disability available for those suffering from the disease.
COPD is a lung disease affecting more than 11 million Americans (and possibly more that don't know they have it), according to the American Lung Association; it is often categorized with the likes of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD narrows the small airways within the lungs, obstructing airflow which makes it hard to breathe. While most commonly attributed to smoking, those who’ve never touched a cigarette can also suffer from COPD; second-hand smoke has been identified as a cause, while an alpha-1-antitrypsin (ATT) deficiency in some individuals makes COPD a genetic condition. Additionally, occupational dust, smoke, or fumes typical within some manufacturing and construction jobs also may play a part. Sadly, many of the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York suffer from COPD due to the toxic fumes they inhaled during the disaster.
At first, many individuals may not know they have COPD; they’re just feeling short of breath climbing stairs. Unfortunately, COPD progresses and will bring about wheezing and coughing. All of this adds stress to the heart, which then contributes to pulmonary heart disease. While treatments may help, it’s possibly that COPD may make it difficult for an individual to maintain their job. When that happens, is disability an option?
Yes! You may be able to receive benefits for COPD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has certain requirements for getting approved. First, of course, you must be diagnosed with COPD. However, COPD can range from severe to slight. So, a lung function test performed by a consulting doctor hired by the SSA must show very limited airflow.
Here’s what they’re looking for:
- A spirometry test that determines how much air can be exhaled within one second
- A DLCO test to measure how much oxygen passes into the blood
- An ABG test to measure the partial pressure of oxygen, PaO2, and carbon dioxide, PaCO2
- An oxygen saturation test
Suffering from COPD, and need help understanding your rights? Contact the Disability Experts of Florida. We will be with you every step of the way to make sure your COPD is handled with the seriousness it deserves.