Is COPD a Disability?

Yes, COPD is considered to be a disability by the SSA. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include difficulty with breathing, cough, mucus production and wheezing.

It is caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter which is usually cigarette smoke. It can lead to serious health problems like respiratory infections, lung cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure and depression.

Is COPD a Disability?

Yes, COPD is considered a disability by the SSA. To get disability benefits for COPD you’ll need to meet a Blue Book listing and provide enough medical evidence that proves you have COPD. The limitations caused by your COPD must prevent you from working for at least 12 months.

Types of COPD That Are a Disability

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease which makes breathing difficult. There are two main types of COPD and most people with COPD have a combination of both these conditions which are:

  • chronic bronchitis, which involves constant production of mucus and a long-term cough;
  • emphysema, which causes lung damage over time.

In addition to the two types of COPD are four different severity levels of COPD. These are mild which is stage 1, moderate which is stage 2; severe which is stage 3, and very severe which is stage 4.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.

How to Get Disability Benefits For COPD

COPD is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book under chronic respiratory disorders which is section 3.02. In order to be eligible for disability benefits, you have to meet several requirements listed in section 3.02 of the Blue Book. There are two pulmonary function tests that may help you to show the severity of your COPD. If only one of these tests shows that your lung function is severely limited then you may qualify for disability benefits. These tests are:

  • The spirometry test, where a spirometer, which is a measuring device with a mouthpiece, is hooked up to a small electronic machine. This should measure your lung’s ability to expel air when you breathe out.
  • The plethysmography test, which reveals how much air is present in your lungs after you have taken in a deep breath. It’s used to compare your lung function with known standards that indicate how well your lungs are working.

The Blue Book states that not everyone who has COPD will necessarily meet the Blue Book listing requirements, but if you are unable to work you will need to prove you experience dizziness, fainting, or you have suffered excessive and unintentional weight loss which makes it difficult to work. This evidence will help you qualify for disability benefits.

If necessary you can ask your doctor to conduct a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment which determines the limitation you have with moving, lifting, standing and sitting as well as your ability to concentrate on tasks.

Get Help With Your COPD Disability Claim

If you work with a disability attorney he or she can assist you in ensuring that your claim for disability benefits includes the necessary evidence which boosts your chance of qualifying for a disability benefit.


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