From the moment you were born, you have been forced to deal with the symptoms of cystic fibrosis (CF). While most people get their first jobs as teenagers, you were in and out of the hospital with aggravated breathing problems—and they’ve only gotten worse over time. So how can you be expected to work for a living when your best days are the ones where you don’t have to fight for breath?

Medical Proof Is Required

CF causes the body to produce excess mucus, which coats the inside of the lungs. This makes it difficult for the patient to breathe, but also increases the occurrence of lung infections and acute pulmonary distress. CF patients will often suffer prolonged coughing fits (to expel mucus), high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension, and even eventual heart failure.

Many CF sufferers can get automatic approval of benefits if their condition has affected their breathing to the point where working is medically impossible, and they meet the criteria in the Blue book listing for cystic fibrosis. In order to qualify for expedited payments, you must be able to provide medical proof of one of the following:

Poor lung function. Depending on your gender, height, and age, you must show that your forced expiratory volume (FEV1) value on a spirometry test—the amount of air you can exhale in one second—is low.

Hospital stays. You need to show that you’ve had at least three exacerbations that required a hospital stay in the last year, each occurring at least 30 days apart.

Vascular embolization. You must show you’ve had a vascular embolization to control a pulmonary hemorrhage.

Reduced oxygen saturation. You must show that twice in the last year and one month apart, your SpO2 level has been at or below 89%.

Collapsed lung. You must show that your CF caused pneumothorax (a collapsed lung), and it required the placement of a chest tube.

Respiratory failure. You must show you needed “invasive mechanical ventilation, noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP, or a combination of both treatments, for a continuous period of at least 48 hours, or for a continuous period of at least 72 hours if postoperatively.”

Two exacerbations or complications. You must show you had two of the following types of complications in the past year:

  • a pulmonary exacerbation that required 10 days of intravenous antibiotics
  • a pulmonary hemorrhage requiring hospitalization for any period of time
  • weight loss that required “daily supplemental enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy for at least 90 consecutive days or parenteral nutrition via a central venous catheter for at least 90 consecutive days”
  • CFRD diabetes that required daily insulin for at least 90 consecutive days

If you’re not sure you qualify for immediate benefits, send us an email at [email protected] to ask us a question about your Social Security disability case.

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