Pneumonia and Social Security Disability

Pneumonia is not generally considered a disability, as most cases can be resolved with proper medical attention and treatment. It can however be a symptom of a number of other disabling conditions, including brochiectasis and cystic fibrosis, among others. Chronic pneumonia, which causes pain, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and breathing difficulties, can also qualify for disability benefit through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs, if it prevents gainful employment.

Medically Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Pneumonia

To qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you must suffer from a severe medical condition that prevents gainful employment for a period of at least 12 months or is reasonably expected to prevent you from earning a gainful living for at least that long.

Because even most severe cases of pneumonia can successfully be treated and resolved in under 12 months, it can be difficult to prove disability if you suffer from pneumonia alone. However, there are a couple of ways in which you may be able to win your claim for benefits.

The SSA uses a listing of impairments (the Blue Book) to evaluate disability claims. You must either:

  • meet one of these listings

  • Or

  • qualify through a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) analysis that shows your pneumonia is so severe that it prevents you from working in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified.

There are a number of listings in the Blue Book that may apply to your disability claim:

  • Section 3.02 – Chronic pulmonary insufficiency
  • Section 3.04 – Cystic Fibrosis
  • Section 3.07 – Bronchiectasis
  • Section 3.08 – persistent bacterial, fungal, or viral lung infections

Each of these requires you suffer from chronic pulmonary insufficiency, which in turn requires you have spirometry test results that fall within specific limitations ranges


If this is the case, the SSA will need to review your “residual functional capacity” (RFC) to determine how severe the affects of your pneumonia are on your ability to perform everyday functions, including typical job duties. If your RFC is so limited that you cannot reasonably expected to work in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified, then you will be found medically eligible for SSD benefits.

Your Social Security Disability Case

While you can apply for disability benefits on your own, you might want to consider hiring a disability attorney or advocate before applying for benefits. Especially since Pneumonia is not normally considered a disability, an attorney will be able to evaluate your claim and let you know whether it is worth your time to apply for social security disability. There is no upfront cost to hiring a disability attorney. They work on a contingency basis meaning they are not paid unless you are successfully awarded benefits. Learn more about hiring an attorney here

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