Emphysema is a lung condition that causes you to have shortness of breath. The reason for this is because the alveoli or  air sacs in your lungs are damaged. Over time, the inner walls of alveoli rupture and weaken, and create larger air spaces. This reduces the surface area of the lungs, traps old oxygen which prevents new oxygen from entering, and as a result, reduces the amount of oxygen going to your bloodstream. This entire process can worsen and lead to other medical conditions such as chronic bronchitis, which is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs and has symptoms that include a persistent cough.

Emphysema is one of the forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a listing for COPD, and if your condition meets the criteria for that listing, you may be eligible to apply for and receive disability benefits. In order to seek these benefits, however, you have to sufficiently prove that your emphysema is severe enough to constitute a disability. To determine if your condition is severe, you can show how it limits your ability to carry out daily activities, including your ability to work at a job. 

Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Emphysema

EmphysemaWhen you are exposed to airborne irritants for a long time, that may cause emphysema. These airborne irritants may include but are not limited to:

  • Air pollution
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Marijuana smoke
  • Chemical fumes and dust

Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is hereditary and can cause emphysema. This is a condition in which a person has a deficiency of this protein that causes a breakdown in the structures of lung tissue which relies on these proteins to maintain their structure. If your family has a history of protein deficiency, you might get this condition as well. It can no longer protect your lungs’ elastic structure, which may result in this type of emphysema. 

To understand whether or not you have Emphysema, you need to identify the signs and symptoms of it. A lot of symptoms can cause you to have a Disability for Emphysema. Over time the symptoms can worsen.

The signs and symptoms of emphysema may include:

  • You may have shortness of breath, especially during periods of physical activity.
  • You can make sounds such as whistling while you are breathing and having trapped air in your lungs.
  • You may have an excessive mucus-producing cough.
  • You may gasp or cough very frequently.
  • Your chest may tighten and cause discomfort.
  • Your immune system may become compromised. As a result, you may suffer more frequently from the flu and a cold and other respiratory infections.
  • You may start to lose weight in the severe stage. For instance, your lower muscles may weaken, and your feet, ankle, or legs can start to swell.

Can You Get Disability For Emphysema?

If your signs and symptoms of emphysema are severe enough to cause you to become disabled, you may be eligible to apply for and receive disability benefits from the SSA. The SSA will determine whether your condition is a COPD according to  its listing if you undergo a consultative exam by one of their doctors. You can apply with your doctor’s confirmation, but your disability listing for COPD confirmation depends on the outcome of the medical examination provided by the SSA’s doctor.

Generally, a doctor will conduct a spirometry test on you. This is a pulmonary function test (PFT) that measures and monitors lung function. More specifically, it measures the amount of air (volume and flow) in your lungs and your capacity to breathe air in and out of your lungs as well as your breathing rate and patterns. This test helps to identify whether you have COPD, asthma and other respiratory disorders. 

The SSA may approve your application for disability benefits if your doctor finds that you have multiple restrictions limiting your ability to breathe normally and that it affects your ability to physically function.

Suppose that you want the SSA to approve your application for Disability for Emphysema more quickly. In that case, you have to submit your chest x-rays and any other diagnostic imaging testing such as a CT scan. These can serve as visible proof of you having emphysema that one of the SSA’s doctors can immediately review. However, if you have turned 50 and try to apply for benefits at age of 50, then make sure you read the listings to know specific eligibility criteria.

How Can You Get Disability Benefits For Emphysema?  

The first question you might have may be; is Emphysema a disability? Well, yes it can be. It is one of the types of chronic pulmonary insufficiencies, which is a group of progressive lung disorders caused by increasing breathlessness.

Chronic pulmonary insufficiency disease is already present in the blue book of SSA for disability benefit claims. As emphysema is a COPD, you may be eligible for disability benefits too. The SSA, however, takes note of a few factors resulting from your condition. Those initial requirements are as follows:

  • Whether or not you can execute substantial gainful activities.
  • The period of time that you have had your respiratory illness is at least one year (12 months.)
  • Whether your respiratory condition is severe enough that it has impacted your necessary or daily-life activities.

General Requirements for Disabilities. 

When you have met the listing requirements next, the SSA makes multiple determinations regarding your general disability eligibility evaluation. The criteria are:

  • Your monthly income should be no more than $1,220 from your job or in the year 2019.
  • Your emphysema is so severe you are unable to continue your work for a minimum of 12 months.

You can avail of any of the two types of Disability benefits for Emphysema by the SSA. They are – Social Security Income and Social Security Disability income.

  • SSI:

When you have a limited work history and your financial resources are limited, you can apply for a Social Security Income. You can find out more about SSI eligibility here.

  • SSDI:

    Get In Touch

    If you have a qualifying work history for SSDI and your employers have been SSA taxpayers of the Social Security Administration for a substantial amount of time, you may be eligible to apply for and receive SSDI. You find out more about SSDI eligibility here.

    Consult an experienced disability attorney for best help!

    James C. Miller, LTD, helps clients with disabilities to apply for SSA benefits such as SSI or SSDI. If you have emphysema, our expert can determine whether you are eligible for benefits due to having a Disability for Emphysema. Our professional attorney can guide you in the proper direction and collect the right amount of information you need to provide to the SSA so that you can apply for disability benefits.

    Social Security attorney Jim Miller has been helping and representing people with disabilities for 18 years. He mostly works in the Chicago area. He also handles cases in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Tampa, Brooklyn, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and more. He is also a member of the National Association of Disability Representatives.