Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits for Asthma?

man with inhalerIf you or a loved one suffer from asthma that limits your ability to work, you may be able to obtain Social Security Disability benefits.

Below, we review the medical eligibility criteria for asthma, including the types of asthma that often qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. We explain how you might qualify, even if your condition does not fit the defined medical criteria. Finally, we discuss the timing of your application, such as whether you should apply if you were recently diagnosed.

Determining if you may be eligible and gathering the evidence you need is a tall task to manage on your own. Sigman Janssen’s Oshkosh Social Security Disability lawyers have helped many people with disabilities obtain federal benefits.

Contact us today to find out if we may be able to assist you with your application or appeal. There are no upfront costs, and the initial legal consultation is free.

Sigman Janssen. Proven Results. No Upfront Costs. (877) 888-5201

What Are the Medical Eligibility Criteria for Applicants With Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic breathing problem that results from inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It causes symptoms like wheezing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Symptoms can be triggered by physical exertion, pollen, dust and even cold air.

These symptoms make it harder to work or engage in many other activities. To complicate things, asthmatics often experience frequent asthma attacks that lead to hospitalization, persistent fatigue and inability to handle mild physical activity.

While millions of people suffer from asthma, many may not medically qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Applicants must meet both of the following criteria:

Forced Expiratory Volume at or Below Specified Level

You must provide medical evidence showing your forced expiratory volume (FEV). The first second of expelling air must be at or below a certain level based on your age, gender and height.

The asthma listing contains a table with the FEV figures for different genders and heights. For instance, if you are less than 60.25 inches tall, are over the age of 20 and are male, your FEV must be measured at 1.60 or less. Doctors must record this FEV within 12 months of when you were hospitalized for your asthma.

Three Hospitalizations Within 12 Months

You must also provide proof of at least three hospitalizations within one year, and these hospital stays must occur a minimum of 30 days apart from each other.

Each hospital stay must be for a minimum of 48 hours, including any time you spent in the emergency room immediately before being hospitalized.

Given these criteria, people with asthma should consider applying if they:

  • Have been frequently hospitalized because of their asthma
  • Regularly use oxygen
  • Work in an environment that triggers their asthma
  • Experience frequent fatigue that makes it difficult to work
  • Are suffering from chronic obstructive asthma, which often overlaps with chronic bronchitis
  • Require continual use of high-dose corticosteroids to manage their asthma
  • Have another medical issue that limits their ability to work full-time, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Are suffering complications like chronic respiratory failure or pneumothorax
  • Cannot work or frequently miss work because of their medical issues
  • Doctors have said your condition is expected to last a minimum of one year

Even if your condition does not meet the specific criteria in the Social Security Administration Blue Book, you may still medically qualify. For example, an Administrative Law Judge may approve your application if you are hospitalized frequently enough, such as if you miss at least one day per month on an ongoing basis.

However, you need to present compelling evidence (spirometry tests showing reduced airflow, description of the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks, etc.), which is something the attorneys at Sigman Janssen know how to gather. We have managed many appeals, helping applicants obtain the benefits they needed.

If you are suffering from severe asthma that limits your activities, you may qualify, and we may be able to help you apply or appeal a denied claim.

What if I Do Not Medically Qualify for SSD Benefits?

You need to prove your asthma prevents you from working. The SSA can conduct a residual functional capacity assessment to determine what job-related tasks you are able to perform.

Once they determine what tasks you can and cannot do, like heavy lifting, working in extreme cold, or working around dust, they will determine if there is any work you can do. For instance, if they find you cannot go back to your old job, they will evaluate your job skills, education and other factors. They will need to determine if you could work in another industry, such as if you have transferable job skills.

While each case is unique, people who are over 50 generally have an easier time qualifying for benefits because they cannot work in another industry.

When Should I Apply?

If you were recently diagnosed, you may feel like you should apply right away. However, the SSA is less likely to approve your application if you are still working or your doctor thinks you may be able to control your condition with medication. You should probably wait to see if the medication works before applying.

That said, if medication cannot control your condition and you have had multiple hospitalizations, you should consider applying for disability benefits as soon as possible. This is especially true if you are over the age of 50 and are unable to do the type of work you have done in the past.

If you start taking medication and it is working, and you are earning more than the substantial gainful activity limit, it is highly unlikely you will be able to obtain disability benefits.

Contact Sigman Janssen for Assistance With Your Social Security Disability Claim

At Sigman Janssen, we understand the challenges faced by those with severe medical conditions, like asthma. We know how important it is to obtain financial assistance, like federal disability benefits, when you cannot work because of a medical issue.

If you think you may be eligible for benefits, or have already applied and been denied, our experienced lawyers may be able to help you. Call today to learn more. There are no upfront fees.

Contact Sigman Janssen for legal assistance: (877) 888-5201.