According to the CDC, Kentucky has the highest rate of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the United States. Although no single factor can explain the prevalence of COPD in Kentucky, the high incidence of smoking in the state certainly plays a significant role. Close to one-third of Kentucky residents smoke cigarettes. Also, many occupational hazards in Kentucky may be contributing to the disease as well.
Kentucky is working hard to combat the disease. As such, there are an increasing number of resources available for individuals living with COPD in Kentucky. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has developed disability programs aimed at offering financial assistance to those who are no longer able to work as a result of their disease.
Pulmonologists in Kentucky
The earliest signs of COPD may include a persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Many individuals who experience these symptoms dismiss them as the common cold or as typical signs of aging. As a result, many Americans are living with COPD and don’t even know it. COPD is sometimes suspected after respiratory symptoms do not subside after several visits to a primary care doctor.
A pulmonologist should follow individuals with COPD. Pulmonologists are medical experts who specialize in disorders of the lungs and respiratory system. A pulmonologist will have the knowledge and equipment to order the specific breathing tests necessary to make a proper diagnosis. A pulmonologist can also ensure that the correct medications are administered and that the best pulmonary rehabilitation program is followed.
In addition to offering exceptional health care, your pulmonologist will play an essential role in helping you to obtain a Social Security disability award. When reviewing disability applications, the SSA relies on the medical opinion of experts. As such, the medical information provided by your pulmonologist will be critical in the determination of your claim.
If you have decided to pursue disability benefits, you should first sit down with your pulmonologist to discuss your plan. Together, you may want to review the respiratory section,3.00, of the Blue Book. The Blue Book, often referred to as the “list of impairments” is used by the SSA to determine which illnesses are severe enough to warrant disability payments. Included in the Blue Book are the symptoms and medical tests required to earn a disability award. By reviewing this section with your pulmonologist, you can determine if you have completed all of the necessary medical tests.
If you are not currently under the care of a pulmonologist, here are three highly-regarded practices within the state of Kentucky:
University of Louisville Physicians
Pulmonology at UofL Physicians Outpatient Center 401 E. Chestnut St. Suite 690 Louisville, KY 40202 (502) 588-6000 uoflphysicians.com/practice-pulmonology/overview
Saint Joseph Hospital
KentuckyOne Health Pulmonology Associates 1401 Harrodsburg Road Suite A 300 Lexington, KY 40504 (859) 313-1000 kentuckyonehealth.org/hospital-pulmonology
Graves Gilbert Clinic
201 Park St. Bowling Green, KY 42101 (270) 781-5111 gravesgilbert.com/departments/pulmonology/
COPD Support Groups in Kentucky
COPD is a challenging health condition that varies considerably from patient to patient. While some individuals can continue to live a relatively normal life, others struggle to breathe and function on a regular basis.
Many COPD patients have found great comfort in joining a COPD support group. Research has shown that individuals who are facing illness and feel supported fare better than those without support. COPD patients report that support groups have helped them learn coping mechanisms and symptom management. More importantly, COPD support groups help individuals to feel less isolated, thus warding off depression and anxiety.
If you would like to join a COPD support group, listed below are three that meet in Kentucky. Keep in mind that online support groups are also available for those unable to attend in person.
Better Breathers Club – Louisville
Meets every second Thursday of the month at 2:00 pm UofL Health Care Outpatient Center 1st Floor, Suite 120 401 East Chestnut Street Louisville, KY 40202 (502) 852-1917
Better Breathers Club – Frazier Rehab Institute
Meets every second Wednesday of the month from 1:00 to 2:30 pm Frazier Rehab Institute / Kentucky One Health 220 Abraham Flexner Way 10th Floor Dining Room Louisville, KY 40202
Better Breathers Club- Harding Memorial Health
Meets every first Wednesday of the month at 3:00 pm Hardin Memorial Hospital 5th Floor Boardroom 913 N. Dixie Ave. Elizabethtown KY 42701
Applying for Social Security disability benefits for COPD is not unlike applying for disability benefits for any other health condition. The first step of the process is to determine if the symptoms of your COPD are so severe that they will prevent you from working for at least one year. As COPD is a progressive disease, your current symptoms are unlikely to improve over time.
The next step of the process is to determine if you have all of the medical evidence required by the SSA to evaluate your claim. By reviewing the Blue Book with your pulmonologist, you can decide if you have completed all of the necessary testing.
Even if you do not meet the criteria as outlined in the Blue Book, you still might be able to qualify for disability benefits using a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC will demonstrate the most work that you can perform despite your limitations.
If you are ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you can do so online or by visiting one of the following offices in Kentucky:
Louisville Social Security Office 40223
10503 Timberwood Circle, Suite 50 Louisville, KY 40223 (888) 280-5851
Lexington Social Security Office 40505
2241 Buena Vista Road, Suite 110 Lexington, KY 40505 (866) 530-7754
Bowling Green Social Security Office 42104
2724 Chandler Drive Bowling Green, KY 42104 (877) 801-0817
In addition to leading the nation in COPD cases, Kentucky is also at the top of the heap when it comes to disability benefit payments. In fact, nearly 1 in 9 Kentucky residents receive disability assistance. While you may find those numbers encouraging concerning of your own approval, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of individuals seeking financial aid are initially denied approval.
The Social Security disability application process is complicated and cumbersome. In addition to providing just the right amount of medical documentation, applicants must meet very specific deadlines. As a result, many people with COPD hire a Social Security lawyer to help them with the application process. Hiring an attorney does not cost, as they are only paid if you win your COPD case.