Over 270,000 Maryland residents have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and many more live with the disease and do not even know it. A COPD diagnosis is scary, and many patients are left with more questions than answers. While some individuals can live a relatively normal life, others are completely debilitated by COPD.
The good news is that there are several local and federal resources available to Maryland residents with COPD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial assistance to unemployed COPD patients who meet specific criteria.
Pulmonologists in Washington, D.C.
COPD is not one illness. Instead, it is an umbrella term that covers a number of respiratory disorders such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory asthma. These inflammatory diseases cause shortness of breath, chronic coughs, and wheezing. COPD is often diagnosed after multiple visits to the hospital or doctor’s office for what many attribute to a cold virus that won’t heal or to being out of shape.
Individuals with COPD are often cared for by a pulmonologist. These medical experts specialize in health conditions related to the lungs. A pulmonologist will typically run several breathing tests, or pulmonary function tests, to determine how well your lungs are working. In addition, a series of blood tests will also confirm how well your lungs are exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. Your pulmonologist will manage your medications and might start you on breathing exercises, or pulmonary rehabilitation.
In addition to offering medical care, your pulmonologist will also assist you in obtaining disability benefits. The SSA requires a significant amount of medical documentation when applying for disability benefits for COPD. Your pulmonologist will confirm your diagnosis, submit your medical test results, and perhaps even perform a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment on your behalf.
Once you’ve decided to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will want to inform your pulmonologist of your intentions. The better your working relationship with your pulmonologist, the better your chances of winning your claim.
If you are not currently working with a pulmonologist, here are three practices in the Maryland area.
Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine Medical Arts Building 11085 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 201 Columbia, MD 21044 (410) 715-1060 hopkinsmedicine.org/community_physicians/locations/howard_county/pulmonology_howard_county.html
University of Maryland Medical Center
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine 22 S. Greene Street Baltimore, MD 21201. (410) 328-8141 umms.org/ummc/health-services/pulmonary-critical-care-medicine
Pulmonology and Critical Care Associates of Baltimore
515 Fairmount Avenue, Ste. 500 Towson, MD 21286 (410) 494-1662 pccab.com/home
COPD Support Groups in Maryland
When an individual has a sudden heart attack or receives a cancer diagnosis, friends and family often rally around the emergent situation. However, the slow and progressive nature of COPD does not always conjure up the same support. Often, friends and family are not aware of the gradual decline in health that you are experiencing on a daily basis. As such, it’s important to find support from other avenues as well.
Many COPD patients have positive things to say about joining a COPD support group. COPD support groups offer a safe environment for sharing and learning, as well as a place to connect with individuals who understand your struggles.
If you are interested in joining a COPD support group, here are a couple in Maryland.
Better Breathers Club – Anne Arundel
Meets every other month on the fourth Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 am Anne Arundel Medical Center Belcher Pavilion 2001 Medical Parkway, 7th floor Annapolis, MD 21401 (443) 481-3487
Better Breathers Club – LaPlata
Meets every second Saturday of the month at 1:00 pm University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center 5 Garrett Ave LaPlata, MD 20646
Applying for Social Security Benefits for COPD in Maryland
While many people suffer from COPD, not all individuals who apply for SSDI benefits will be approved. Only those with the most advanced cases that are backed by significant medical evidence will be considered for a Social Security disability award.
To apply for Social Security disability benefits in Maryland, you will need to prove that your respiratory illness is so severe that you are unable to work as a result of your condition. You will want to consult the SSA’s list of impairments, also called the Blue Book, to determine what medical tests are needed, as well as wheat results would qualify for a disability award. COPD can be found in section 3.00 of the Blue Book.
Further, Social Security disability benefits are reserved for those individuals who are permanently disabled. As a result, you will need to demonstrate that your COPD has kept you out of work for at least a year. Your symptoms must be expected to continue, which is typically the case with COPD.
Most people prefer to apply for disability benefits online. However, there are also several Social Security offices in Maryland that can help you as well. Here are three that you may want to visit:
Baltimore Social Security Office 21201
1010 Park Ave Suite 200 Baltimore, MD 21201 (800) 772-1213
Columbia Social Security Office 21045
8865 Stanford Blvd Lakeside Building, Ste 110 Columbia, MD 21045 (800) 772-1213
Silver Spring Social Security Office 20903
10230 New Hampshire Ave Suite 304 Silver Spring, MD 20903 (800) 772-1213
Can a Social Security Lawyer Help with my COPD Claim in Maryland?
In addition to the respiratory symptoms that accompany COPD, individuals with the disease often face indescribable fatigue. The exhaustion of the illness makes it hard to live day-to-day. As such, applying for Social Security disability benefits is a tedious and difficult task for an already exhausted person.
One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to hire a disability lawyer to work on your behalf. An experienced Social Security attorney can ensure that your application is complete and that all of the accompanying documentation is included.