Nearly 10 percent of Alabama residents suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In fact, Alabama is second in the nation when it comes to individuals who have been diagnosed with this progressive lung disease.
The high rates of smoking in Alabama contribute to increased rates of COPD within the state.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with COPD are often scared and uncertain where to turn. Thankfully, there are many local and federal resources for COPD patients. The SSA has two distinct programs to assist those who have become permanently disabled as a result of COPD
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program offers financial assistance to those who are no longer able to work due to their severity of their COPD.
Pulmonologists in Alabama
Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and yet many others are living with the disease and may not even know it. The early symptoms of COPD are often similar to the symptoms of a common cold or bronchitis.
For many, the lingering cough and wheezing are not of immediate concern. For some, a visit to their primary care doctor reveals the possibility of COPD.
While some primary care doctors manage COPD, it is best to seek treatment from a pulmonologist. Pulmonologists are medical experts that specialize is health conditions related to the respiratory system.
These specially trained doctors can order the right medical tests, manage your medications and treatments, and follow your health throughout the course of your illness.
In addition to helping you manage the symptoms of COPD, your pulmonologist will play an instrumental role in helping you obtain COPD disability. You will need to rely on your pulmonologist to order the appropriate medical tests that are required by the SSA to determine the severity of your illness.
Therefore, as soon as you decide to apply for SSDI benefits, you may want to review the respiratory section, 3.00, of the Blue Book together. The Blue Book, or list of impairments, is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine disability benefits.
Additionally, your pulmonologist will need to submit evidence via your medical records to the SSA. You may want to request that he or she complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form on your behalf. This assessment will help demonstrate any physical or mental limitations that may limit your ability to work.
Hopefully, you are already working with a pulmonologist. However, if you are not, here are three practices in Alabama that may be able to assist you.
- Birmingham Pulmonary Group St. Vincent’s Hospital Professional Building 1 2660 10th Avenue South, Ste. 528 Birmingham, AL 35205 (205) 933-9258
- Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants 1440 Narrow Lane Parkway Montgomery, AL 36111 (334) 281-4140
- Pulmonary Associates of Mobile 3 Infirmary Circle, Suite 410 Mobile, Alabama 36607 (251)433-3344
COPD Support Groups in Alabama
The slow and progressive nature of COPD makes it such that those affected often ease their way into the illness without others even noticing the severity. As a result, there is sometimes less understanding and support than there would be for other health conditions such as cancer or stroke.
Scientific research has shown that patients who feel more supported during a health crisis tend to fare better than those without support. Many COPD patients have found value in joining a COPD support group.
Support groups offer a safe gathering place for those suffering from COPD so that they may learn, educate, and feel connected to others who share a similar experience.
There are online support groups for those who are unable to get to a meeting. However, in-person support groups are best. Here are two in Alabama that you may want to try:
- Better Breathers Club – Birmingham Meets every second Wednesday of the month at 1:00 pm St. Vincent’s Hospital Med Help Lakewood Office Building – 3rd Floor Classroom Birmingham, AL 35205
- Better Breathers Club – Mobile Meets every fourth Monday of the month from 2:00-3:00 pm Cardiac Rehabilitation Center 719 Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36608
Applying for Social Security Benefits for COPD in Alabama
Even though Alabama leads the nation in COPD cases, not all individuals who apply for disability benefits will be approved. Only those with more advanced cases of COPD who can provide sufficient medical evidence of their condition will be considered.
As with all conditions listed in the Blue Book, the symptoms of your COPD must last, or be expected to continue, for at least one year. This is typically not difficult to prove given that COPD is a progressive illness that tends to worsen with time.
In fact, if you have applied for disability benefits in the past for your COPD and were denied, you may be considered now. Your pulmonologist will need to attest that your condition has continued and may even worsen over time.
If you are ready to apply for disability benefits for your COPD, you have a couple of options. You can apply online, or you can visit one of the several Social Security offices around the state. Here are three offices in the larger cities in Alabama:
1200 Rev Abraham Woods District Office, 1st Floor Birmingham, AL 35285
4344 Carmichael Road Montgomery, AL 36106
550 Government Street Mobile, AL 36602
Can A Social Security Lawyer Help with my COPD Claim in Alabama?
With nearly 1 in 10 Alabama residents living with COPD, there are undoubtedly many people seeking SSDI benefits within the state. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals are denied benefits in the initial stages of the application process.
If you are not approved during this stage, you must often wait close to two years for an appeals hearing with an administrative law judge.
One of the best ways that you can improve your chances of approval is to work with a qualified Social Security lawyer. Your lawyer will ensure that you have adequately completed your application and that all of the supporting medical evidence is presented to the SSA.
If you are still denied benefits, your attorney can work with the SSA to see that all the deadlines are met and that you are moving in the direction of a disability approval.