Qualifying for Social Security With Different Stages of COPD

If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), you might be unable to work. This condition might qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). COPD has different stages, and in its early stages, you might not be approved for benefits. However, as your condition worsens, you might be able to be approved per the medical criteria set forth in the Blue Book. There are different ways you can meet the requirements to be approved for disability benefits.

Symptoms of COPD

There are several symptoms related to COPD. Those symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. COPD can add extra work onto the heart and lead to pulmonary heart disease. Various medications, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation are treatment options. If the individual suffers with emphysema, the only known effective cure is a lung transplant. However, the COPD makes it almost impossible for an individual to survive a lung transplant because of the toll it has had on the body. The condition reduces your breathing capacity and leads you to overexert yourself, so you are unable to work.


To qualify for disability with the medical listing, you must meet the criteria of the listing for chronic pulmonary insufficiency. 

Disability Listing for COPD

The disability listing requires you to meet the specified readings on a lung functioning test. There are different charts for different tests, and each chart has figures that coincide with age, sex, and height. The four different breathing tests that can be used to show limited or restricted airflow are:

Qualify for SSDI with COPD

  • The DLCO test
  • Spirometry test
  • Oxygen saturation test
  • ABG test

As an example, using the chart supplied by the SSA, a man who is six feet tall and 20 years old meets the requirements of the listing if he has a FEV1 of 2.10 or less from a spirometry test. Three hospitalizations within the last year that are at least 30 days apart and lasting more than 48 hours because of COPD exacerbations or complications will result in approval for benefits.

Medical-Vocational Allowance

Using the medical-vocational allowance, you can be approved for benefits as well. If you don’t meet the medical criteria, a residual functional capacity (RFC) can be created to show that you are unable to perform your work-related duties. As an example, all your symptoms, treatments and side effects, different conditions, and abilities are considered. For example, if you are unable to walk long distances, stand more than an hour, or perform work around fumes or dust, that must be clearly indicated. Disability Determination Services will review your medical records to create this RFC. Your age, educational background and work history are also considered.

Consult With A Disability Attorney

If you are unable to work because of COPD, regardless of the stage of your condition, you should consult with a disability attorney. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to have your case reviewed by a disability lawyer. Those who are represented by an attorney are much more likely to have their claim approved. Make sure your claim is on the right track today, so you can access the benefits that you need!

Additional Resources

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