You know that people are able to get disability payments for serious bodily injuries—a car accident that causes paralysis or an illness that affects a patient’s brain. But what if you are constantly at risk of choking or being unable to breathe? Will Social Security really give you disability benefits for persistent asthma attacks?

Collecting Medical Records for Chronic Lung Conditions

The first thing you should do to increase your chances of approval is to gather all of your medical records from all of the hospitals where you received treatment, not just your primary doctor. For example, if you regularly go to VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Hospital for treatment, but were seen in another hospital’s emergency department during an attack, you should make sure to obtain those records.

Evidence to support your application may include documentation regarding:

  • Asthma attacks. You should include an account of any episode that required immediate care in a hospital or emergency room, had prolonged symptoms lasting one or more days, or required intensive treatments such as IV or inhalation bronchodilator therapy.
  • Chronic asthmatic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) episodes that occur in spite of prescribed treatment and require medical intervention at least once every 2 months should be documented. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may count any hospitalization in an inpatient ward that lasts longer than 24 hours for control of asthma as two separate attacks.
  • Chronic lung infections. While the infections themselves may not last long enough to be disabling, recurring infections may require considerable time off work, adding up to a disability. Patients should provide evidence of chronic infections, such as positive culture tests, medical proof of drug resistance or immuno-compromise, or other evidence that shows you are likely to suffer persistent infection. SSA will use medical records and expert opinions to gauge your residual functional capacity and determine to what extent your condition prevents you from working.

Additionally, the SSA will look for evidence that shows you have a listing-level “airflow obstruction at baseline while you’re medically stable.” This listing can be found under Table VI in 3.03A of the Blue Book listing of Respiratory Disorders. Also, your medical records must show that you’ve had complications or exacerbations that required a stay in the hospital three times within a year and at least 30 days apart. Each stay must have lasted at least 48 hours, including the hours spent in Emergency prior to the hospitalization.

Not sure what to include in your benefits application? Download our free guide, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, or send us a quick email to ask us specific questions about your case.

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience
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