Permanent Restrictions After COPD

If you suffer from COPD, especially advance stages of the disease, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is connected to several lung diseases that include bronchitis and emphysema. Obstructed airflow to and from the lungs can trigger inflammation that eventually damages the lungs. COPD often gets much worse over time, which can lead a physician to place permanent restrictions on a patient.

Permanent Restrictions You May Experience with COPD

Common COPD symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The lung disease also causes the heart to work much harder than it should, which can lead to some form of heart disease. If your job involves a considerable amount of hard labor, your doctor might permanently restrict your job functions to the point when you have to switch to a much less strenuous role at work. COPD is not a disease that goes away; once the damage is done to the lungs, the damage is considered irreparable.

Treatments for COPD can prevent the disease from getting worse, but outside of a risky lung transplant, the disease stays with a patient in some form for the rest of his or her life. Medications, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation can mitigate the symptoms, but this does not mean that you can one day return to work in your former position. COPD patients that work in the construction, healthcare, and hospitality industries can expect to have at least some permanent restrictions placed on them.


Work History and Job Skills

Because COPD results in permanent impairments, you should submit a claim for financial assistance with the Social Security Administration (SSA). A team of medical examiners from the SSA review your claim to determine whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The SSA also examines your work history over the past 15 years to establish a list of job skills that you have developed. Ultimately, the SSA wants you to return to work in some capacity, even if the job does not come close to resembling what you did for a living before COPD.

To measure whether you have a disabling that prevents you from working your current job, the SSA conducts a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. For COPD patients, an RFC assessment will involve completing mostly physical exercises that test strength and stamina. You might have to ride a stationary bike for 15 minutes at a medium pace to determine how well your lungs function. If any type of physical work is ruled out, the SSA tries to find another occupation that does not exploit the symptoms of COPD.

Can I Perform Sedentary Work?

For a COPD patient who experiences advanced symptoms of the lung disease, working a desk job might be the only occupational option. Sedentary work can prevent you from over-exerting yourself. If you need to transition from a highly physical job into a sedentary role such as working as an insurance adjuster or a financial analyst, you can seek financial assistance through a federal government education program.

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Since the SSA denies a majority of Social Security disability claims, you should contact an attorney to help you submit a compelling claim. A Social Security lawyer may how to handle the appeals process as well. Your attorney can recommend a physician to analyze your ability to complete certain job functions.

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Additional Resources

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