What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases and for Social Security Administration (“SSA”) purposes includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Typical symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, wheezing, sputum production, coughing up blood, and a rapid rate of breathing.


Can you get SSDI/SSI with COPD?

Yes, you can qualify for disability benefits for COPD in two different ways. First, if your COPD meets the requirements of a Listing you automatically qualify for benefits. Second, SSA will find you disabled if your COPD causes such significant work limitations and your breathing is so compromised that you cannot perform any type of job on a full-time basis.


How does SSA determine eligibility for COPD?

SSA requires medical evidence to confirm your diagnosis and to assess the severity of your COPD. Medical evidence includes doctor’s office examination notes, imaging results (x-rays and CT scans), pulmonary function tests (spirometry, DLCO tests, ABG tests, pulse oximetry), laboratory tests, and your response to prescribed treatment.

SSA has disability “Listings” for the vast majority of conditions which lists specific criteria that you can “meet” to automatically be found disabled. People with COPD also suffer from other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and depression. If you do not match the Listing criteria exactly, you can be found to “equal” the listings if taking into account all of your other diagnoses you exhibit a similar level of severity.

COPD appears in Listing 3.02 and includes numerous charts that assess the severity of your breathing capacity based upon your sex, body weight, height, age, and other factors. If your breathing test results are not severe enough to meet or equal Listing 3.02, SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (“RFC”) – what kind of activities you still retain the ability to do – and whether or not you still retain the ability to perform any full-time jobs in the national economy.


Working with Balin Law

The disability process can be long and complicated. Balin Law is here to help you with all aspects of the disability process including filing an initial application and any appeals on your behalf, obtaining all relevant medical evidence, asking your doctors to complete forms as to whether you meet a Listing and describing your residual functional capacity, and representing you at all levels of appeal, including at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.