Any health condition that impairs a person’s ability to breathe can be extremely traumatic and debilitating. One such condition is Asthma, which is a relatively well-known impairment characterized by constriction and inflammation of the airways that makes it difficult for the afflicted individual to breathe. A diagnosis of Asthma can have a substantial effect on a person’s ability to work, and may lead to entitlement for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates Asthma under Section 3.03 of the Impairment Listing Manual. In order to meet the criteria of Listing 3.03, a person must have a diagnosis of asthma with either Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis or Attacks.

If a person has Asthma with Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis (3.03A), that individual will be evaluated under Listing 3.02A, which sets forth criteria for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Listing 3.02A evaluates an individual’s impairment by utilizing the results of a lung functioning test. You may view the chart on which a person’s results are evaluated here:

Alternatively, a person may have Asthma with Attacks rather than Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis. If this is the case, the person will be evaluated under listing 3.03B. The listing’s definition of “Attacks” can be found in section 3.00C- “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.” Also, a person must have an attack every 2 months or at least 6 times a year. An evaluation period of 12 months is required in order to determine the frequency of attacks.

As with any claim for disability benefits, it is important to have a strong history of continuing medical treatment. This is especially important for conditions that effect your ability to breathe, since often times SSA will evaluate your condition by examining medical test results and doctor’s opinions about your condition. If you do not meet the criteria set forth in a listing, SSA will conduct a Residual Functional Capacity analysis to determine if your condition prevents you from being able to work.

If you have any questions regarding your disabling condition, please feel free to give us a call.