As the third leading cause of death in our country, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a health condition not to be taken lightly. Nearly nine percent of Tennesseans live with COPD, giving the state the third highest rate of COPD in the United States. Sadly, many individuals living with the disease do not seek treatment until their lung disease is quite advanced.
Thankfully, there are many resources for the approximately 450,000 people living with COPD in Tennessee. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial assistance to those who are too ill to work as a result of COPD.
Pulmonologists in Tennessee
COPD is a progressive disease that affects the respiratory system, sometimes causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. As the disease progresses, it can also impact other body systems, such as the heart. While there is no cure for the illness, there are ways to slow the progression and to manage the symptoms. The best person to help with COPD is a pulmonologist.
Pulmonologists are medical experts who specialize in disorders of the lung. They are specially trained to diagnose and treat respiratory conditions such as COPD. Your pulmonologist will follow your care, making adjustments to your treatment regimen as you go along.
In addition to providing health care, your pulmonologist will play an essential role in assisting you to obtain Social Security disability benefits. When applying for financial assistance for your COPD, the SSA requires that you provide a substantial amount of medical evidence to support your claim. Your pulmonologist will be asked to submit medical records, including a medical opinion on your diagnosis and long-term outlook.
Establishing a good working relationship with your pulmonologist is extremely helpful when it comes to applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Once you’ve decided to apply, it makes sense to discuss your plan with your pulmonologist. Also, you may want to review the respiratory section of the SSA’s Blue Book together.
The Blue Book is a medical guide used to determine which health conditions are serious enough to warrant a disability award, as well as what medical tests and symptoms must be present. If you are not currently working with a pulmonologist, there are many to choose from within the state of Tennessee.
Here are three well-regarded practices that might be able to assist you:
1212 Medical Center Drive Nashville, TN 37232 (615) 322-2386 https://www.vanderbilthealth.com/pulmonary/
Mid-South Pulmonary Specialists, P.C.
5050 Poplar Avenue, Suite 800 Memphis, TN 38157-0800 (901) 276-2662 http://www.mspulmonary.com
University of Tennessee Pulmonology and Critical Care
The University of Tennessee Medical Center Heart Lung Vascular Institute Building E, Suite 210 Knoxville, TN 37920 (865) 524-7471 https://www.utmedicalcenter.org/pulmonary-critical-care-home/
COPD Support Groups in Tennessee
While the physical aspects of COPD are challenging, the emotional and psychological side of COPD is sometimes overlooked by patients and their families. The shortness of breath that accompanies COPD makes it difficult to attend to many activities, which can quickly lead to depression and anxiety.
Studies have shown that support groups are incredibly beneficial to those suffering from a chronic health condition, such as COPD. In addition to offering a place for learning, COPD support groups also can assist those with the disease to feel less alone as they navigate their new normal.
There are many online forums and chat groups for individuals with COPD. Additionally, COPD support groups meet throughout the state of Tennessee.
Here are three that you might be interested in attending:
Better Breathers Club – Indian Path Medical Center
Meets every first Thursday of the month from 1:00- 2:30 pm Indian Path Medical Center 2101 Fort Henry Drive, Suite 52 Kingsport, TN 37664 (423) 765-3048
Better Breathers Club – Mount Memorial Hospital
Meets every fourth Thursday of the month from 11:00 am -12:00 pm Mount Memorial Hospital 907 East Lamar Alexander Pkwy. Maryville, TN 37804
Better Breathers Club – Humana
Meets every fourth Monday of the month at 3:15 Humana 4438 Western Avenue Knoxville, TN 37804 (865) 329- 8892
Starting Your Social Security Disability Benefits Claim for COPD in Tennessee
Because Social Security is a national program, filing Social Security disability benefits in Tennessee is the same as filing in other states. Although SSDI benefits are a federally mandated program, there are still some small differences between states' application process. Therefore, several local Social Security office employees in Tennessee can help you with your claim.
When making a claim for disability benefits, you have to provide as much medical documentation as possible to support your claim. Your medical records need to confirm your diagnosis, as well as the severity of your illness. The SSA will utilize the Blue Book to determine if you meet the criteria for COPD. Should you be not meet the requirements as outlined, you might still qualify for SSDI benefits through a medical-vocational allowance.
The SSDI program is not meant for individuals who will recover from their conditions. As such, you must be able to demonstrate that your COPD will keep you out of work for at least one year. As COPD is a progressive disease, your health is likely to decline over time. Therefore, if you are unable to work now, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to work in the future.
If you feel that you meet the criteria for SSDI benefits, you can apply online or by visiting one of the local Social Security offices near you. Listed below are three in the larger cities in Tennessee.
Nashville Social Security Office 37228
120 Athens Way Nashville, Tennessee 37228 (877) 808-5461
Memphis Social Security Office 38104
1330 Monroe Avenue Memphis, Tennessee 38104 (866) 336-2212
Knoxville Social Security Office 37919
8530 Kingston Pike Knoxville, Tennessee 37919 (866) 331-9091
Can a Social Security Lawyer Help with my COPD Claim in Tennessee?
If you have COPD and are seeking financial help from the Social Security Administration, one of the first things you should do is contact an experienced lawyer. The SSDI application process is complex, and any misstep can delay your award, or worse, result in outright denial.
A qualified disability lawyer can help you navigate the complicated Social Security process. From obtaining medical documentation on your behalf to speaking to your doctor, your lawyer can ensure that all of the details are taken care of completely. As a result, you will have more time to tend to your health and family.