How to Get Disability Benefits for Asthma by Meeting a Listing

To determine whether you are disabled at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process, the Social Security Administration will consider whether your asthma is severe enough to meet or equal the asthma listing. The Social Security Administration has developed rules called Listing of Impairments for most common impairments. The listing for a particular impairment describes a degree of severity that the Social Security Administration presumes would prevent a person from performing substantial work. If your asthma is severe enough to meet or equal the asthma listing, you will be considered disabled.

The listing for asthma is 3.03, which has two parts: A and B. You will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you meet either part.

Meeting Social Security Administration Listing 3.03A for Asthma

According to this listing, if you are diagnosed with chronic asthmatic bronchitis, you will be evaluated under the criteria for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in listing 3.02A (Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency), which provides that a claimant is disabled if he or she has:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to any cause, with the FEV1 equal to or less than the values specified in Table I corresponding to the person’s height without shoes.

Asthma Table I

FEV1 is measured by a spirometer. The device measures the volume of air that you can inhale and exhale and displays the result on a graph called a spirogram. Spirometry is the most important test for evaluating obstructive lung disease. FEV1, which stands for forced expiratory volume in one second, decreases in proportion to the severity of the lung disease. In other words, the lower your FEV1, the more severe your lung disease is.

Meeting Social Security Administration Listing 3.03B for Asthma

A Social Security disability claimant with asthma meets listing 3.03(B) and is disabled if he or she has:

Attacks in spite of prescribed treatment and requiring physician intervention, occurring at least once every 2 months or at least six times a year. Each in-patient hospitalization for longer than 24 hours for control of asthma counts as two attacks, and an evaluation period of at least 12 consecutive months must be used to determine the frequency of attacks.

Attacks of asthma are defined as:

Prolonged symptomatic episodes lasting one or more days and requiring intensive treatment, such as intravenous bronchodilator or antibiotic administration or prolonged inhalational bronchodilator therapy in a hospital, emergency room or equivalent setting.

Therefore, not every asthma attack counts. To meet Listing 3.03B, you must have attacks that require a trip to the ER or treatment by a doctor to control. Attacks that you can control yourself with your inhaler or home nebulizer do not count.

Documentation of your medical treatment is the key to winning a disability claim under listing 3.03B. Note the phrase “in spite of prescribed treatment...” If you don’t have a medical history, you cannot possibly qualify under part B since you cannot satisfy the requirement of being under the care of a physician.

Continue to Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Asthma.
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