Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short, is a disease that can make it hard or impossible to work in many jobs, which in turn can make it hard or impossible to carry on a normal life and function in society. As such, some sufferers of COPD qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. But qualifying for SSDI as a COPD sufferer can be a complicated process. How can you learn if you qualify?
First it is important to know a bit about the Social Security Administration’s requirements for COPD sufferers to qualify for disability insurance. In addition to a diagnosis from a medical professional, you will need a lung performance test to determine your SSDI eligibility.
Specifically, your doctor will need to perform a spirometry test to evaluate your forced expiratory volume in one second, or your FEV1 value. This test will determine how much air your lungs are able to utilize, and will assign a numeric value to your lung’s capacity which takes into account your height. To determine if your FEV1 meets eligibility requirements, check the official listings provided by the social security administration.
However, if your FEV1 doesn’t qualify you automatically, don’t worry too much. The Social Security Administration intentionally keeps their FEV1 thresholds low, as these numbers allow for automatic qualification without a further assessment. Talk to your doctor, and ask for a full examination in addition to a spirometry test.
If your doctor determines that your COPD makes it impossible for you to perform tasks related to the field of work you have previously been trained for or employed in, FEV1 numbers may not be as relevant to your SSDI qualification. Additionally, your doctor can perform a variety of tests to determine your lungs’ ability to effectively oxygenate your body, which may affect your ability to work even if your FEV1 numbers are high. A letter from a doctor to the Social Security Administration explaining that a COPD sufferer is not fit to work will often meet SSDI requirements for qualifications, even if FEV1 numbers don’t meet automatic qualification levels.
Even if your COPD does not meet SSA’s listing, you still may qualify based on your overall health, age, background, and inability to perform work related tasks. Ultimately, your COPD will have to be fairly debilitating for you to qualify for SSDI. The Social Security Administration won’t consider your request for disability insurance if your COPD is only an inconvenience, or something that you can manage well enough to engage in regular employment. If your COPD renders you unable to work, talk to your doctor, and apply for disability.