Disabling Condition: Respiratory Problems

by Editorial Board on September 6, 2010 · 0 comments

in Breathing Problems

Respiratory problems that may be disabling include chronic pulmonary insufficiency, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic pulmonary vascular hypertension, sleep apnea, and lung transplants.

  • Asthma
  1. What is the frequency and duration of your asthma attacks?
  2. Do you sometimes take a short course of steroids?
  3. Do you want to learn more about asthma?  Consider visiting the NIH Asthma page for more information.
  • Sleep Apnea
  1. Have you ever taken a sleep study?
  2. Do you use a CPAP machine when sleeping?
  • Other breathing disorders
  1. Have you had pulmonary function tests?
  2. Do you smoke?

Our lungs, nose and trachea exchange gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) in and out of our body.  The internal structure of the lung is often compared to a tree with extending branches getting smaller and smaller.  The walls of the branches thin, allowing gasses to pass in and out of the blood.

Social Security will look at pulmonary function tests to determine how a lung disorder limits functioning (the ability to breathe).

For asthma, however, Social Security will look at the frequency of attacks (once every 2 months) despite treatment.  For sleep apnea, Social Security will consider the condition disabling if it causes cor pulmonale (change in structure and function of the right ventricle of the heart) or organic mental disorders.

Sleep apnea is often cured by the use of a CPAP machine.  If you are unable to use your CPAP, make sure to discuss this with your doctor, so that your treatment records reflect failed treatment rather than non-compliance with treatment.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a condition that makes it hard for you to breathe.  Learn more about COPD at the NIH website.

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