Washington, D.C. is more than just the nation’s capital. It is also the home to over 700,000 people. Of those individuals living in Washington, D.C., approximately 4.6 percent report having been diagnosed with COPD. Further, 20% of those residents living with COPD are unable to work as a result of their symptoms.
If there is a silver lining to these facts, it is that there are many local and federal resources available to those who are impacted by COPD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has developed two distinct programs aimed at offering financial assistance to Washington, D.C. residents who can no longer work as a result of COPD.
Pulmonologists in Washington D.C.
Individuals with COPD are typically cared for by a medical expert called a pulmonologist. Pulmonologists are specially trained doctors to focus on health disorders related to the lungs and respiratory system.
Your pulmonologist will order several tests to determine the severity of your illness. These might include breathing tests, also referred to as pulmonary function tests, as well as blood tests. Your pulmonologist will prescribe medication to help your condition, as well as potentially order pulmonary rehabilitation.
Establishing a good working relationship with your pulmonologist is essential for your health. Additionally, your pulmonologist will play a critical role in your quest for disability benefits. Your pulmonologist will be asked to provide the SSA with a substantial amount of information about you and your health.
In addition to submitting medical records on your behalf, your pulmonologist might also want to do a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC). In doing so, the SSA will have a better idea of your physical and mental limitations as they relate to your ability to work.
Once you decide that you are ready to apply for disability benefits, you will want to discuss your plan with your pulmonologist. If you are not already working with a pulmonologist, here are three practices in the Washington, D.C. area that may be of assistance.
The GW Medical Faculty Associates
Pulmonology 22nd & I Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington, DC 20037 (202)741-3333 https://www.gwdocs.com/specialties/pulmonology/
Chevy Chase Pulmonary Associates
5215 Loughboro Road NW, Suite 400 Washington, D.C. 20016 (301) 656-7374 http://www.chevychasepulmonary.com
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Pulmonology 110 Irving Street NW Washington, D.C. 20010 (202) 877-7000 https://www.medstarwashington.org/our-services/internal-medicine/treatments/pulmonology/
COPD Support Groups in Washington, D.C.
The importance of COPD support groups cannot be overstated. Scientific research has demonstrated that support groups speed healing, reduce the severity of associated symptoms, and ward off the common psychological side-effects such as depression and anxiety.
Support for COPD can come from your medical team, family and friends, and COPD support groups. Support groups offer you the opportunity to connect with individuals who are sharing a similar experience. Individuals have the chance to share educational information as well as to learn about COPD resources.
If you are interested in joining a COPD support group, here are a couple in the Washington, D.C. area:
Better Breathers Club – Washington, D.C.
Meets every last Friday of the month at 10:30 am Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center 3500 Martine Luther King, Jr., Avenue SE Washington, D.C. 20032 (202) 274-5864
Better Breathers Club – Bethesda
Meets every second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 pm Suburban Hospital 8600 Old Georgetown Road Bethesda, MD 20814
Applying for Social Security Benefits for COPD in Washington, D.C.
Individuals with COPD who are unable to work as a result of their symptoms can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. To be approved, you will need to meet the listing as described in the Blue Book.
The Blue Book, or listing of impairments, is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine which conditions are severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. COPD is listed in the respiratory section, 3.00 of the Blue Book.
Not all individuals who have COPD will meet the Blue Book listing. Many individuals who rely on supplemental oxygen or who experience shortness of breath have been denied disability benefits. However, if you can prove that your COPD symptoms are so severe that there are no jobs that you can do, you might still qualify for disability benefits.
Your pulmonologist will need to confirm your diagnosis, as well as assert that your symptoms are severe enough to keep you out of work for at least one year. You will need to demonstrate that you adhere to the prescribed treatment by your pulmonologist, including giving up smoking. Given that COPD is a progressive illness, your current health status is unlikely to improve.
You can easily apply for Social Security disability benefits online. Alternatively, you can visit one of the following Washington, D.C. offices:
Washington Social Security Office 20020
2041 MLK Jr Ave SE Washington, DC 20020 (800) 772-1213
Washington Social Security Office 20037
2100 M Street NW Washington, DC 20037 (800) 772-1213
Washington Social Security Office 20018
1905-b 9th Street NE Washington, DC 20018 (800) 772-1213
Can A Social Security Lawyer Help with my COPD Claim in Washington, D.C.?
If your COPD is impacting your day-to-day activities and you are unable to work, you may want to consult a Social Security lawyer. An experienced disability attorney can review your case and determine if you have sufficient medical evidence to be awarded an approval.
In addition, your lawyer can work with the SSA on your behalf, ensuring that all the necessary deadlines are met. A disability lawyer is not paid unless you win your COPD case, leaving you little to lose by hiring one.