You may have suspected there was a problem when you began having trouble completing simple tasks, such as shopping for groceries, mowing the grass or walking the dog. Perhaps you became short of breath, developed a cough that wouldn't go away or felt tired all the time. You may have chalked it up to your smoking habit, dust or fumes at work, or just getting older, but now your health may be getting even worse.
Getting dressed in the morning, finishing a meal or having a conversation may take longer because you have to keep stopping to catch your breath. You may have pain in your chest and feel exhausted all the time. When your doctor diagnosed you with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you realized your situation was very serious.
Your condition and your job
COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and many with COPD suffer with both of these debilitating diseases. These conditions cause inflammation in your airways that makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. This may hinder your ability to do the most basic tasks without the aid of oxygen. It could also prevent you from working to support yourself and your family.
Your West Virginia employer may be able to make accommodations for you, such as providing a close parking space, creating a more flexible schedule for you or allowing you to use a motorized cart to maneuver around the workplace. However, COPD is a progressive disease, becoming worse as the lining in your airways thicken and the mucus accumulates. You may soon find your condition restricts your abilities too much to allow you to work even with accommodations.
Seeking assistance through Social Security
If your health prevents you from working to earn at least $1,000 a month, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. Applying for disability is a complex process, and you can expect to submit as much documentation as possible, including evidence of the following:
- Doctor visits
- Diagnostic test results
- Treatments your doctor has recommended
- The effects of your treatments
After applying for disability benefits, you will undergo and interview, and SSA agents may require you to meet with additional doctors for further testing. You may have to wait up to five months to learn if Social Security will accept your application for benefits. If your claim is not successful, you will then go through the appeals process.
For the best results, you may find the assistance of an attorney helpful. A legal professional with experience navigating the Social Security system may provide you with an advantage during the process of applying for disability benefits.