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Cystic Fibrosis and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Cystic Fibrosis?

Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach

The Social Security Administration recognizes cystic fibrosis as a serious impairment in its Blue Book under Section 3.04. Applicants with cystic fibrosis are eligible for automatic approval of disability benefits if they suffer from poor lung function and repetitive lung infections.

Cystic fibrosis disability benefits

The SSA recognizes Cystic Fibrosis in its Blue Book under Section 3.00-Respiratory. To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits a person must meet the requirements of the listing or prove that they are unable to work.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) affects 30,000 people in the U.S.

CF is a progressive inherited disease that causes repetitive lung infections and limits a person’s ability to breath over time. Because of early diagnosis and new therapies, people who suffer with this disorder are now able to live longer lives.

Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulatorCystic Fibrosis is caused by a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), the gene that controls the flow of salt and fluid in and out of cells.

If this gene fails to function properly, mucus builds up in the body. Mucus should be slippery and thin, but in CF mucus is thick and sticky, blocking tubes, ducts, and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas. This buildup makes it difficult to breath and traps germs leading to infection. CF can also cause severe lung damage in the form of fluid-like sacs called cysts and scar tissue or fibrosis; hence the name cystic fibrosis.

An individual must inherit the mutated gene from both parents to develop cystic fibrosis.

If a child inherits only one copy of the mutated CFTR gene, they won’t have symptoms, but they will be a carrier of the disease and can pass it on to their children. Ninety percent of people affected have at least one copy of the gene and approximately 10 million carry the gene, but have no symptoms.

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

Cystic fibrosis affects not only the respiratory system, but other organs of the body as well resulting in a variety of symptoms and possible complications.

Common symptoms include:

  •    Frequent lung infections
  •   Trouble breathing
  •   Persistent cough that produces thick mucus
  •   Repetitive sinusitis
  •   Exercise intolerance
  •   Inflamed nasal passages and stuffy nose
  •   Trouble growing or gaining weight
  •   High level of salt in sweat
  •   Chronic constipation

Complications of CF which may develop affect the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems of the body:

  •   Bronchiectasis, a condition where the bronchial tubes are permanently damaged
  •   Collapsed lung
  •    Respiratory failure
  •   Nasal polyps
  •   Coughing up blood
  •   Sleep apnea
  •   Diabetes
  •   Liver disease
  •   Nutritional deficiencies
  •   Intestinal blockage
  •   Infertility

Though some adults experiencing symptoms were not diagnosed with CF as children, today infants are tested at birth for CF.

Every state uses at least one of three tests:

  •   A DNA test to detect mutations in the CFTR gene.
  •   A blood test to measure the level of immunoreactive trypsinogen (IRT), a pancreatic enzyme, in the blood. Individuals with CF have high levels of IRT.
  •   A test to measure the level of salt in sweat. A high level indicates CF.

Doctors may now use a DNA or sweat test on adults who were not tested as infants.

Treatment of cystic fibrosis is complex and involves a team of medical providers in multiple specialties.

Though there is no cure, treatment can ease symptoms, reduce complications, and improve an individual’s quality of life. The goals of treatment are to prevent and control infection, remove and loosen mucus in the lungs, prevent and treat intestinal obstruction and provide adequate nutrition. A treatment plan will usually include the use of antibiotics to treat infection, bronchodilators (inhalers) to open airways, mucus thinners, and CFTR modulators to help the CFTR gene function properly. Air clearance techniques can help rid the body of mucus and physical therapy can help with breathing exercises.

Cystic Fibrosis disability benefits appeal

The Social Security Administration has a listing for cystic fibrosis, The Social Security Administration has a listing for cystic fibrosis, so if the applicant meets the standard for the listing, they are approved for disability. Call for more information 512-454-4000

As patients with CF become older, they may experience more lung infections and problems breathing.

The Social Security Administration recognizes cystic fibrosis as a serious impairment in its Blue Book under Section 3.04. Applicants with cystic fibrosis are eligible for automatic approval of disability benefits if they suffer from poor lung function and repetitive lung infections.

To qualify for automatic approval of disability benefits an applicant must provide evidence of one of the following:

  •    A breathing test (Spirometry test) result that indicates a low FEV1. An FEV1 is a measurement of the amount of air a person can exhale from the lungs; or
  •   At least three hospitalizations of any length within the previous 12 months, occurring at least 30 days apart; or
  •   Collapsed lung caused by CF and requiring chest tube placement; or
  •   Respiratory failure requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP (a method of breathing support), or a combination of the two treatments, for a minimum of 48 hours, or 72 hours after surgery; or
  •   Pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding from the lung) with vascular embolization (placement of a tube into an artery or vein) to control bleeding; or
  •   A low oxygen reading (SpO2) of 89% or below (lower for those living at high altitude). Low oxygen must occur at least twice in the same 12-month period under consideration and at least 30 days apart; or
  •   Two of the following serious complications: pulmonary exacerbation requiring 10 consecutive days of intravenous antibiotic treatment, pulmonary hemorrhage requiring hospitalization of any length, weight loss requiring daily supplemental enteral nutrition, or CF related diabetes requiring insulin therapy for at least 90 consecutive days.

If you have cystic fibrosis, but your disability does not meet the requirements of Social Security’s listing, you may still be approved for disability benefits.

For example, if you are unable to hold full-time employment because you frequently need time away from your job during the day to undergo treatments for CF, or because of your medical condition, you must avoid dust, fumes and temperature extremes, Social Security may find your limitations prevent full-time work and deem you disabled. Also, applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book, but if you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, Social Security will consider how those health issues, combined together, limit your ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work (called a medical-vocational assessment), taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.

If you have cystic fibrosis and your medical condition has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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"Words can not truly express the gratitude that I feel toward Mr. Lonnie Roach and his professional team. I give them an A+++. Very compassionate and prompt. Their priorities are first and foremost helping you succeed at your case. When you feel helpless, feeling like someone is on your side can mean the world to you. Thank you for working for the people."
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Attorney Lonnie RoachAuthor: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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