Breathing Disorders

Breathing disorders are conditions that interfere with the respiratory process. The key function of the respiratory process is gas exchange; bringing air in to the lungs so that oxygen can diffuse into the blood while simultaneously allowing carbon dioxide to diffuse out of the blood stream and into the lungs to be exhaled.

General Information
Breathing disorders are generally classified in to two groups, restrictive or obstructive.

Restrictive breathing disorders limit the ability of the lungs to fully expand. Individuals with restrictive breathing disorders cannot fill their lungs with air. This is usually the result of hardening of the lungs themselves, such as with pulmonary fibrosis.

Obstructive breathing disorders cause respiratory difficulty by limiting the ability to fully exhale. This is due to inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which narrows the airways of the lungs. Emphysema, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causes the alveoli in the lungs to become damaged. These structures play a crucial role in the diffusion of gasses through the blood entering the lungs.

Social Security Medical Listing 3.00 – Respiratory System
Potentially disabling disorders of the respiratory system include chronic pulmonary insufficiency, asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Pneumoconiosis, Bronchiectasis, persistent lung infections, cor pulmonale secondary to chronic pulmonary vascular hypertension, and lung transplant.

Documentation necessary to prove disability under the Social Security Administration includes pulmonary function testing, or spirometry. Spirometry must include FEV1 and FVC values representing the largest of at least three satisfactory tests, and also must include a test post-bronchodilator administration if the FEV1 was less than 70% predicted.

If your impairment does not meet the requirements set forth in Social Security Medical Listing 3.00, the Social Security Administration will look at the effect your impairment has on your activities of daily living, treatment, compliance with treatment, response to treatment, prognosis, your age, past work, and residual function capacity. You also must be unable to engage in gainful activity for one year or longer.

Your representative can help you determine whether your breathing disorder is severe enough for you to qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration.