Disability for Emphysema

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Is emphysema a disability?

Emphysema is a chronic lung condition that leads to shortness of breath. The alveoli (air sacs of the lungs) are damaged in people suffering from emphysema. Over time, alveoli’s inner walls rupture from weakening, which creates larger air spaces rather than multiple smaller ones.


It reduces the surface area of a person’s lungs, and thus, fewer amounts of oxygen reach their bloodstream. At the time of exhaling, the affected alveoli do not work correctly, which makes the old air trapped in the lungs. It leaves no room for oxygen-rich, fresh air to fill the lungs.


In 2018, over 3.8 million adults were diagnosed with emphysema, and the number of deaths was over seven thousand. It makes this disease a severe cause of concern. You are entitled to receive social security disability for emphysema if you meet the SSA’s (Social Security Administration) listing requirements for chronic pulmonary insufficiency (COPD).



Understanding the symptoms and causes of emphysema


Chronic cough and shortness of breath are the two main emphysema symptoms that appear during the initial stages. In emphysema, a person feels shortness of breath (dyspnea), which means that they are unable to catch their breath.


It starts during any physical exertion, but when the disease progresses, it might happen even when one isn’t physically exhausted. COPD and emphysema develop over many years. In the later stages of this chronic disease, a person might experience:


  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Frequent infections in the lungs
  • Mucus buildup
  • Weight loss from reduced appetite
  • Sleep disorders
  • The difficulty of breathing at night
  • Morning headaches from a lack of oxygen
  • Bluish tinge on fingernail beds or lips (cyanosis) from a lack of oxygen


Several other conditions have similar symptoms as COPD and emphysema. Thus, it is crucial to get medical advice. Though there are multiple causes of emphysema, people’s main reason to get this is prolonged exposure to airborne dust particles or irritants.


Here are the four leading causes of emphysema disability:


  • Marijuana smoke
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Dust and chemical fumes


In rare cases, emphysema comes from an inherited protein deficiency that helps in protecting the elastic structure in the lungs. This form of the disease is known as the alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency emphysema.


Can you get disability for emphysema?


If an emphysema patient faces severe health issues and other circumstances making his life miserable, the Social Security Administration may approve your application. Many claims get automatic approval, given they meet the listing requirements for Chronic Pulmonary insufficiency (COPD). You can also get approval if your doctor states that your disease will be worse. The healthcare professional should also mention that is not possible for you to do any job to earn a living.

To ensure your eligibility for emphysema disability benefits, the SSA will ask for a spirometry test. It is meant to analyze the infection in your lungs. Many doctors also get this test done for their patients. But Social Security Administration will ask to undergo a spirometry test under their doctor’s supervision once again to identify your eligibility. If you are found eligible, you can get disability or emphysema.


Why should you hire a disability lawyer for emphysema disability benefits?


  • Having an experienced disability attorney by your side can be a huge help in securing the disability benefits.
  • Making sure you have a strong case to receive the claim- It can be hard to determine whether you meet the COPD criteria without a social security attorney. Your attorney will help you in collecting and going over the medical records. Your restrictions and limitations to qualify based on the listing will also be clearly explained to you by us.
  • For instance, if you can’t work, walk, or stand for over an hour or two because of the physical exertion, you may qualify for social security disability benefits. The attorney will be of help in getting the right documentation to strengthen your claim.
  • Aiding you if your claim is denied- In case your claim about emphysema is denied, we will help you to prove that you deserve the benefits as you are unable to earn a substantial gainful income in your condition. It is possible to receive a medical-vocational allowance based on your age, medical condition, educational background, and work history.
  • When the claim gets denied, your attorney will help you make an appeal to request a hearing in front of an ALJ (administrative law judge). A vocational expert will ask questions to you for determining your functional capacity. The questions can range from ‘does wheezing impact your functional ability?’ to ‘do you feel breathless when standing or walking?’ and so on. A knowledgeable attorney will prepare you for the questions beforehand.


Hire a disability lawyer from Berke Law Firm, P.A. to seek SSD benefits for your ailment. Discuss your case with our attorney and know the best ways to receive benefits. We are the experienced disability law firm on whom you can rely on for extended legal help. Our legal team will stand by your side from filing the application to receiving the benefits.


Commonly Asked Questions about SSD benefits for emphysema



  • Does emphysema qualify for disability?

You might meet the SSA’s listing requirements for COPD, in case you suffer from severe emphysema. Your condition has to be serious enough for the doctor to put so many restrictions on what you do, that there are practically no jobs left to do for you.


  • Will I need to get the spirometry test again if I claim the benefits?

Your doctor might have given you the spirometry test before, but you will have to undergo a new exam under the SSA. The SSA will have one of its own doctors take your test to check your present rate of breathing.


  • Can I get disability benefits for emphysema if I’m 30?

Disability benefits for emphysema can be secured at any age, based on the severity of your conditions. However, a young person with moderate emphysema might find it harder to secure the benefits than someone aged.