Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a general term that describes progressive lung diseases. This umbrella term includes diseases such as chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and emphysema. COPD can be disabling if your condition is severe enough, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if an individual is disabled.
COPD is a listing disease, which means it is included in the Blue Book. The Blue Book has the criteria that your condition must meet for automatic approval as a disability. If your COPD meets the listing criteria, you will be approved for benefits. In that case, the SSA will not have to evaluate whether your COPD restricts your functional capacity to such an extreme level that you qualify for disability benefits. Tests will need to be done to determine if you qualify for disability based on your COPD. One test that is used to determine if you are disabled is the forced expiratory volume (FEV) which measures the amount of air that you can exhale in a second.
Different Kinds of Disability Benefits
The SSA oversees two different disability programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is based on your work history and earnings. You must have worked five years full-time out of the last 10 years to have earned adequate credits. How much you receive in monthly benefits is based on your past earnings history. Auxiliary benefits, which are usually about half of your monthly benefits, are available to your dependent children and spouse.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based disability program. In addition to meeting the medical criteria to qualify for benefits, you must meet specific financial requirements, including limited income and limited resources. As of 2020, the maximum payable amount is $783 per month for an individual, but you may be able to earn more than $783 per month and still qualify for SSI benefits. There is a certain process that must be followed to determine eligibility based on income and resources, so talk with a representative from the SSA to determine if you may qualify for SSI benefits based on your neuropathy.
The Application Process
Disability claims can be filed online, in person, or over the phone. Visit www.ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 and either talk with a representative or schedule an appointment at your local SSA office. To determine if you qualify for disability benefits, you will need to provide detailed medical records and supporting evidence that shows your diagnosis and the severity of your condition. You want to be able to prove your condition limits your ability to work, so you are eligible to receive disability benefits. A claim requires hard medical evidence to be approved for SSDI or SSI. If you are unable to work because of COPD, you should start the application process. Approval can take a while, so you want to get your claim started right away.