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Does My Emphysema Qualify Me for Disability?


Social Security disability may be available to some with emphysema. This condition causes poor lung function, and, when lung function is impaired enough, disability related to emphysema , and SSD benefits may be available to help provide financial support.

When Is It Possible to Qualify for Disability with Emphysema?

To obtain financial support, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s listing requirements for chronic pulmonary insufficiency(COPD) or you must show why your emphysema would prevent you from working on a regular and continuing basis. As this condition progresses, it is more likely that a person will qualify for SSI or SSDI, since there is no cure for the condition. Qualifications typically fall under the 3.00 Respiratory Disorders – Adult listing criteria.

Often, this starts with severe symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath progressing to extreme shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory infections

Some people may be approved for SSI with chronic pulmonary insufficiency automatically if they meet the requirements. This will depend on doctor’s restrictions and a person’s ability to work. Most often, automatic approval occurs when a person has chest x-rays or other imaging testing that shows the presence of advanced disease. Even if one does not meet the listing, it may be possible to get approved based on the inability to work on a regular and continuing bases. SSA looks at all your conditions, so if an applicant has other conditions in addition to emphysema, they still may qualify.

What Are the SSDI or SSI Eligibility requirements for Emphysema?

Requirements for obtaining SSDI or SSI include:

  • FEV1 spirometry testing that shows a lower-than-normal level for your height, age, and gender (this differs from person to person)
  • FVC spirometry testing results are less than or equal to specific requirements for your age, height, and weight
  • Gas exchange testing that indicates severe impairment, which may include a DLCO test, ABG test, PCO2 test or SP02 test
  • You have spent at least two days in the hospital at least three times in the prior year due to breathing complications (these must be at least 30 days apart from each other)

Not everyone who has emphysema is approved for disability automatically, though. It is not uncommon for the Social Security Administration to deny initial applications due to a lack of information or testing or because a person does not meet the required testing levels.

What Should You Do If You Do Not Meet Automatic Approval Standards?

This does not mean you don’t qualify. It means the Social Security Administration needs more information, or you need to demonstrate your inability to work as a result of your condition. This is one of the key reasons to work with a disability representative. He or she can answer your specific questions, aid you in proving your disability qualifications, and help you to secure financial support to meet your needs.

Finding Help for SSI Eligibility for Emphysema

For those seeking help with disability caused by emphysema, the disability representatives at London Disability are happy to provide immediate help. Contact our offices to learn more about the services we provide.

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