If you have been told that you have COPD, you know just how scary receiving that diagnosis can be. You may be filled with numerous questions, both about your health and about how you will care for yourself and your family financially.
You can rest assured that there are many resources within the state of Florida for individuals who have been diagnosed with COPD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a couple of distinct programs aimed at offering financial help to those who have become permanently disabled as a result of a COPD.
Pulmonologists in Florida
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is not one disease. Rather, it is a term used to describe a handful of illnesses that impact the respiratory system, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and refractory asthma.
These health conditions are progressive, meaning that they worsen over time, causing breathlessness, wheezing, and a persistent cough.
While a general doctor can treat patients with COPD, most patients work with a pulmonologist. Pulmonologists are medical experts that specialize in disorders of the respiratory system. They are specially trained to identify and treat conditions that impact the lungs.
In addition to providing expert medical care, your pulmonologist will play a critical role in your efforts to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Upon applying for disability benefits, the SSA will require that a substantial amount of medical evidence be submitted on your behalf. Your pulmonologist will be responsible for providing up-to-date information on your diagnosis and prognosis, as well as the medical tests to back up the opinion.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you establish a good working relationship with your pulmonologist. You may want to consider reviewing the respiratory section of the Blue Book with your pulmonologist. The Blue Book is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine which health impairments are severe enough to warrant a disability award.
By reviewing section 3.00 with your pulmonologist, you can both decide if your symptoms have progressed enough to win your claim, as well as understanding what medical tests might still need to happen to enhance your disability claim.
If you are not currently working with a pulmonologist in Florida, here are three practices that may be able to assist you:
University of Florida College of Medicine
UF Health Pulmonology- Jacksonville 3rd Floor, Faculty Clinic 653 West 8th Street Jacksonville, FL 32209 (904) 383-1014 https://hscj.ufl.edu/directory/location/79/uf-health-pulmonology-jacksonville/
Miami Pulmonary Specialists
7000 SW 97th Ave., STE 120 Miami, FL 33173 (786) 299-5419 http://miamipulmonaryspecialists.com
Tampa Lung Specialists, P.A.
4129 North Armenia Ave., Suite B Tampa, FL 33607 813-879-3699 https://www.tampalung.com<
COPD Support Groups
When given a diagnosis of COPD, many people don’t know where to turn. Unlike many other health conditions, the symptoms of COPD progress slowly. As a result, many friends and family may not fully comprehend the serious nature of your illness.
Some COPD patients find comfort in joining a support group. Joining a COPD support group can help you learn how to manage the symptoms, as well as to get emotional support from a community of individuals who share your experience, fears, and goals. Here are three COPD support groups in the state of Florida:
Better Breathers Club – St. Vincent’s Hospital
Meets every second Monday of the month from 2:30-3:30 pm St. Vincent's Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation 1824 King St Suite 100 Jacksonville, FL 32204 (904) 308-7560
Better Breathers Club – South Miami Hospital
Call for Meeting Days and Times South Miami Hospital 6200 SW 73rd Street South Miami, FL 33143 (786) 662-8484
Better Breathers Club – Memorial Hospital of Tampa
Meets every first Wednesday of the month at noon Memorial Hospital of Tampa 2901 Swann Avenue Tampa, FL 33609 (813) 342-1483
Applying for Social Security Benefits for COPD in Florida
Those who have been diagnosed with COPD may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, as there are over 11 million people currently diagnosed with COPD in the United States, not all SSDI applicants will be awarded financial help.
As with all individuals seeking disability benefits, COPD patients will need to provide significant medical evidence illustrating that their lung condition is so severe that it prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
As mentioned earlier, the criteria by which the SSA grants a disability award for COPD can be found in the respiratory section, 3.00, of the Blue Book. You will need to have undergone several lung function tests to prove that you are too ill to continue working.
Social Security disability benefits are meant for individuals who are permanently disabled. Therefore, as with all conditions listed in the Blue Book, COPD applicants must have symptoms that have lasted, or are expected to continue, for at least one year. As COPD is a progressive disease, it’s unlikely that your condition will improve over time.
If you are unable to work as a result of COPD, and if you expect that your condition will not improve, you can apply for Social Security benefits online or in person at any of the offices in Florida.
Here are three SSA offices within the state:
Jacksonville Social Security Office 32218
1685 Dunn Ave Jacksonville, Florida 32218 (866) 635-0789
Miami Social Security Administration Office 33189
11100 SW 211 Street Miami, Florida 33189 (800) 772-1213
Tampa Social Security Office 33607
3415 E Frontage Road Tampa, Florida 33607 (800) 772-1213
Can a Social Security Lawyer Help with my COPD Claim in Florida?
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is not easy, especially when you are already under the weather. In addition to the numerous paperwork requirements, several deadlines must be met. Even the most organized, intelligent person can have difficulty understanding the disability application process.
Securing the services of an experienced Social Security lawyer can help tremendously. In addition to helping you gather all of the necessary medical documentation, your lawyer can ensure that all steps of the process are completed as accurately as possible.
In fact, individuals who use the services of a disability lawyer are much likely to win their SSDI claim than those who attempt to go-it-alone. Most importantly, your lawyer is not paid unless you win your COPD claim, leaving you with nothing to lose.