Getting Disability Benefits for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a severe lung condition that is caused by scarring and damaged tissue in the lungs. With this condition, a person will experience difficulty breathing because damaged tissue makes it more difficult for the lungs to work. People may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and other serious symptoms that make it difficult to perform normal daily activities. Pulmonary fibrosis is a serious condition that can be caused by a number of different things. 

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is among a group of interstitial lung diseases (ILD).  These diseases include inflammation and scarring of the lungs. It is a condition that generally worsens with time and affects a person’s overall quality of life. 

Common Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Here are some common symptoms experienced by people diagnosed with the condition: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Tiredness
  • Aching joints
  • Pain in muscles
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers (termed clubbing)

Symptoms may worsen over months or even years. If someone’s condition is so critical that they are no longer able to earn a living, they may be eligible to receive disability for Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Before we discuss the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, it is important to understand whether the condition can be treated or not, and if it can be treated, to what extent. Scarring is permanent and the treatment options for idiopathic fibrosis are minimal. 

Several tests may be required to treat and diagnose the condition. Available treatments will not cure the disease, but they can make it easier to breathe. Some treatments could keep your lungs from worsening quickly. Your doctor may suggest medications, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation.

In severe cases, a lung transplantation may be the only treatment option for the disease. A lung transplant helps resolve complications and allows an individual to live a longer life. People can face serious complications if the disease goes untreated, including Heart Failure Disability. You should not ignore your symptoms.

Is Pulmonary Fibrosis a Disability?

As noted, pulmonary fibrosis is a serious condition that affects the overall quality of life for those unfortunate to have been diagnosed with it. It can severely impact the lungs and may make it difficult for a person with the condition to live and work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) aids individuals who are unable to work because of disabling medical health conditions. 

Disability For Pulmonary Fibrosis

The Blue Book is the SSA’s list of medical conditions that, if your medical documentation meets the criteria, will qualify you for benefits. To seek pulmonary fibrosis disability benefits, you have to consult the help of a knowledgeable attorney. One reason for enlisting the help of an attorney is that rules and regulations governing the SSA are complicated. For example,  the SSA does not list pulmonary diseases as stand alone conditions; however, these conditions are captured generally by Section 3.00, Respiratory Disorders. 

An applicant will have to show their lung function test results to prove they are suffering from this condition. The Social Security Administration will review medical records and base their decision off of their review. 

Does Pulmonary Fibrosis Qualify for Disability?

Some people do not bother to file a claim because the condition is not specifically listed in the Blue Book. It is essential to understand that an applicant can get benefits even when the condition is not listed in the Blue Book. The applicant must have sufficient medical evidence and other records to prove their ailment. 

The SSA considers pulmonary fibrosis under respiratory disorders. To meet the criteria outlined in the listing, one must ensure that they meet the requirements for Section 3.02. This section covers all chronic respiratory disorders. Medical records should demonstrate a severely reduced FEV or FVC. 

Applicants may be determined eligible for benefits if their FEV (forced expiratory volume) or FVC (forced vital capacity) are reduced in accordance with SSA disability regulations. Anyone thinking about applying for SSDI or SSI  should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider and undergo any required tests. A spirometer test may be required to gather FEV and FVC values. 

The Importance of RFC in the Claim Process

There are those who may be suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, but do not meet the exact SSI Eligibility and Benefits requirements noted in the Blue Book. An alternative way to determine entitlement to benefits is through a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) analysis.  The RFC measures, among other things, the amount of strength-related work an individual can perform. 

In addition to physical strength tests, other factors will be considered as part of your RFC, as well. These include mental health, education, age, and transferable vocational skills. The RFC analysis will also address your ability to acquire new skills in another field of employment. It is also important to point out that there are different rules for at 50 benefits.

The general rule is the lower the RFC score, the greater the chances of winning the claim. Therefore, applicants should be prepared to have various factors  considered as part of their RFC calculation. 

You must ensure that all your symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are listed in your RFC paperwork. You can also include notes from doctors, friends, and family members. These narratives can provide a detailed account of how you are suffering from the condition in everyday life by those who know you best.

You may even consider getting statements from past employers or colleagues. They can mention how the condition affected your job and work performance. These statements could play a crucial role in helping you to be awarded benefits.

Medical Evidence You Should Have To Prove Your Disabling Condition

Medical evidence plays a significant role in any successful application for disability benefits. Without medical evidence, you will be unlikely to be awarded benefits because the government needs to first determine whether your condition exists, and if so, is disabling. You should include the following types of records with your application to prove your ailment: 

  • Documented abnormalities caused by the condition
  • Physical examinations and diagnostic test records
  • Treatment, medication, and therapies that you have tried
  • Evidence of how long you have suffered from the condition
  • Medical records noting any physical or mental limitations

If you have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, you should keep a record of anything related to the disease. It will make it easier when filing an application. If you meet the Blue Book listing and provide all documentation up front, your claim could be decided quickly. The time it takes to receive a decision often depends on how strong your case is. The more evidence you provide, the better your chances of being approved, faster. 

Filing a Strong Claim for Pulmonary Fibrosis Disability

To begin the process, you will have to complete an application form. It is quite detailed, lengthy and many people make the mistake of not filling the form out appropriately or completely. To increase your chances of getting approved, you must ensure that everything is completed correctly. 

It is always better to consult an experienced Dallas social security disability attorney before submitting an application to the SSA for disability benefits. They can help you file a strong claim, gather necessary evidence to prove your disabling condition, and get you the benefits you need.