Social Security Disability – Lungs – COPD

Social Security Disability – COPD – Lung Disease – Respiratory Illness – Attorney – Georgia – SSDI – SSI

Disabling Condition: Lungs – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – Condition, Symptoms and Social Security Disability

There is nothing more basic to our every day of our life than breathing. When breathing becomes difficult and even mild exercise causes shortness of breath and fatigue, it affects almost all our daily activities and the ability to work is severely impaired. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD:

•· Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus

•· Emphysema, which involves destruction of the lungs over time

Many people with COPD have a combination of both conditions. Smoking, exposure to gases or fumes in the workplace, secondhand smoke and pollution are frequently the cause of COPD. COPD usually develops slowly and some people may not know that they are ill. Symptoms include coughing, fatigue, repeated respiratory infections, shortness of breath (dyspnea) during mild activity, difficulty catching your breath and wheezing.

Medical basis for claim

Social Security disability examiners and administrative law judges use the Listings of Impairments manual (“Blue Book”) as their guide to determine whether a claimant meets or does not meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for total disability. The Respiratory System found as Section 3.00 of the Blue Book provides a listing for COPD as a type of chronic pulmonary insufficiency as set forth in Section 3.02. It contains three primary sub-listing as follows;

3.02A. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (from any cause);

3.02B. Chronic Restrictive Ventilatory Disease (from any cause); and,

3.02C. Chronic Impairment of Gas Exchanger (due to chemically documented pulmonary disease).

Section 3.02A for COPD is based on pulmonary testing designed to measure the forced expiratory volume at one second (FEV). This is basically a measure of the total volume of air that a person can blow out of their lungs in one breath. A table is used to compare one’s height to the FEV test results to determine if the Listing is met. These test results are not entirely conclusive to establish disability. Some individuals who meet or exceed these criteria are able to live and work almost normally while other individuals who do not meet these criteria can hardly function at all.

Even if an individual does not show that his or her impairments meet the criteria of these listings, the individual may have an impairment(s) equivalent in severity to one of the listed impairments or be disabled because of a limited residual functional capacity. SSA seek to determine if the respiratory impairment causes severe limitations on your ability to perform gainful employment. Your medical records showing your treatment history, the length of time of treatment and how you have responded to the medical treatment will be reviewed. The history of your illness is important since COPD is most always a disease that progresses in severity over time. Medical examinations and test, including chest X-rays, MRI or CT scan will confirm the diagnosis of COPD. Finally Pulmonary Function Testing is required to assess the severity of the respiratory condition.

Residual Functional Capacity limitations

A Residual Functional Capacity Assessment (RFC) is performed to access your physical and/or mental limitations as part of the effort to determine whether the disability limits you so much that you are unable to work. An examiner completing an RFC form for a back disorder will seek to determine the ability of the claimant to do common daily and work related tasks such as walking, standing and lifting. Because of the nature of respiratory illness, particular attention should be paid to limitations caused by exertion and by environmental factors. Heat, cold, dust, fumes, moisture and other environmental factors may adversely affect the ability of a COPD sufferer to function in the workplace. You will also want to make sure that your treating physician makes specific note of any restrictions on your ability to work in these adverse environments.

In addition to other evidence, the RFC is used by the vocational expert and by the hearing judge to evaluate what types of jobs and what level of job activity (full duty, light duty, sedentary) are appropriate for the claimant. It may also be used to support a finding that the claimant is disabled and entitled to benefits.


When COPD, pulmonary disorder or other lung disease results in serious difficulty in breathing and in the inability to continue working, an experienced attorney familiar with Social Security disability law can help you protect your rights and can help you get the benefits you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience and skill to assist you in dealing with the process of obtaining help from these Social Security benefits programs. We represent disabled individuals in SSA Disability claims throughout Georgia including Acworth, Alpharetta, Canton, Cartersville, Duluth, Dallas, Johns Creek, Marietta, Rome, Roswell and Woodstock Contact us today to discuss your situation and the benefits you are be entitled to receive.