Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have Asthma?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t always make it easy for those with asthma to get the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits they deserve.
Asthma is a common reason people apply for benefits, but many claims are denied because SSA says:
(1) Your asthma is controlled with medication;
(2) Your medical condition doesn’t meet the requirements of or is the equivalent of a Medical Listing,
(3) You can return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled, or
(4) There is other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity.
Not all cases of asthma are severe enough to make you eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, but Nancy Cavey has successfully represented many SSA applicants with asthma. She works to overcome the claims denial by working closely with you and your physician to show that you:
- Meet the requirements for a disability listing for asthma, or that
- Your limitations are too great for you to work at your old job or any other job in the national economy in view of your age, education and transferable work skills.
She offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your Social Security disability claim.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) of the breathing or bronchial tubes. The muscles of the bronchial tubes constrict because of irritation and inflammation, causing swelling and excess mucus that further narrows your bronchial tubes. The combination of the constriction and inflammation obstructs the flow of air into the lungs.
Many asthmatics also have other types of obstructive lung disease, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These conditions can complicate the diagnosis, treatment and disability decision.
What Are The Symptoms of Asthma?
The hallmark symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing. The severity of the symptoms can vary by disease and from person to person.
SSA will review your medical records for documentation of:
- Each of your asthma attacks that required hospitalization or emergency treatment, including spirometry test results, arterial blood gas studies, what treatment was provided and for how long, and your response to treatment,
- Compliance with treatment recommendations, and
- How well your symptoms are controlled with treatment.
When Your Asthma Meets A Listing
Adult asthma is included in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.” If you meet or have the equivalent of a Listing, your Social Security disability benefits will be awarded at Step 3 of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation.
Your medical records must establish that you meet every element of the Listing for your asthma to be considered disabling. SSA will review your medical records and look for the following:
- Severe asthma attacks that last one day or longer and require medical treatment, such as intravenous antibiotics, intravenous bronchodilator or prolonged inhalation treatments at a hospital or emergency room, and
- Severe asthma attacks at least every other month, or six times per year.
Alternatively, if you have chronic bronchitis and asthma, you may be able to meet a listing based on the results of lung function/breathing test results.
If you don’t meet or equal a listing, SSA then will determine your entitlement to benefits based on medical and vocational criteria at Steps 4 and 5.
When Your Asthma Makes It Impossible to Work
If your asthma doesn’t meet a listing, you will have to prove that you:
- Can’t return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled (PRW), and
- There isn’t any other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity (RFC).
SSA or, ultimately an Administrative Law Judge, will answer those questions by determining your residual functional capacity. Your RFC is what you can do despite your asthma.
Residual Functional Capacity For Asthma
The SSA will review your medical records at the Initial Application and Reconsideration stage of the claims process and determine your functional capacity to perform sedentary, light, medium and heavy work.
SSA medical consultants often opine that a Social Security Disability applicant can do light and sedentary work, and that will result in a claims denial. The lower your RFC the more likely that you can’t return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years or perform other work. SSA doesn’t tell applicants or physicians about the existence and importance of properly completed RFC forms that will explain:
- How far you can walk,
- How your symptoms change with exertion,
- What exertional limitations you have,
- Whether you can work around excessive dust or fumes,
- What impact hot or cold temperatures have on your symptoms,
- Whether you have good days and bad days and how many days per month you would miss from work, and
- Whether you have psychological problems that would interfere with your ability to work.
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the questions on an asthma RFC form. But you can see that having an explanation of what you can do physically, cognitively and emotionally is key to winning your case.
Many SSA cases are lost because the applicant did not obtain an RFC or the right RFC form, or because their treating physician didn’t properly complete the RFC form. That is one of the many reasons you should have an experienced Social Security attorney like Nancy L. Cavey represent you in your claim.
How Your Residual Functional Capacity Is Used At A Social Security Hearing
Many claims are denied both at the Initial Application and Request For Reconsideration stages of the claims process.
At the hearing stage, the Administrative Law Judge will determine your RFC and give hypotheticals to the vocational evaluator (VE) who will testify at your hearing. The judge will ask the VE to take into consideration your RFC, as determined by the judge, your age, education and prior work experience in determining:
- Whether you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years,
- Whether there is other work you can do or could learn to do.
It is crucial that you are represented at a hearing to make sure the right questions are asked of the VE.
How Do I Get The Social Security Disability Benefits I Deserve?
Asthma can interfere not only with your daily activities but with your ability to work. If you no longer can work or your doctor has told you to apply for Social Security disability, you should hire Nancy Cavey to:
- Help you file your initial Social Security Disability application. The application process is confusing and designed so you make mistakes that can result in a delay or even a denial of your benefits.
- Appeal a wrongful denial of your Social Security disability application or Request for Reconsideration.
- File an Application for Hearing and represent you at the hearing with the Administrative Law Judge who will decide if you get benefits. She will have your physician, if possible, complete the right RFC(s), prepare you for the hearing, prepare a hearing brief, and be prepared to cross-examine the VE.
The SSA is in the business of denying claims and will use any reason to deny your benefits. The odds of getting your Social Security benefits are greater when you are represented by an experienced Social Security Disability attorney like Ms. Cavey.
Contact Social Security Disability Attorney Nancy L. Cavey, Who Can Help You Regardless of Where You Live in Florida
Asthma can make it difficult, if not impossible, to work. You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today. Nancy Cavey can explain the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation process used in every claim, the claims process and how to get your disability benefits. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.