Asthma effects your ability to breathe properly, and can leave you unable to do many jobs. But is asthma a disability? Can you claim disability benefits for asthma? Is it covered under the ADA? We cover answers to all these questions in the article below.
Asthma is a condition in which your airways become narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Around one in thirteen Americans have asthma, and 300 million people around the world are asthma patients.
Chronic asthma can make your daily life difficult. So, is asthma a disability? Yes, asthma is a disability under the American with Disability Act and Social Security Administration.
However, SSA will only give disability compensation when asthma is so severe that you cannot work in an organization for twelve months or more.
The Department of Veteran Affairs also provides disability compensation to veterans with asthma. But they award disability benefits based on their ratings scale, i.e., 10, 30, 60, and 100 percent.
Moreover, the Americans with Disability Act considers asthma patients as disabled and provides them the same privileges that it does to other disabled people. Let us discuss more about asthma and disability compensation.
What Is Asthma?
Whenever we breathe, your airways’ muscles are in a relaxed state. This lets air move in freely. But when a person is diagnosed with asthma, three things can happen. I am discussing them below.
- Bronchospasm: It is a condition in which muscles in the airways get tight, restricting the normal airflow.
- Inflammation: It is a condition the muscles in the airways get inflamed or swollen, which prevents the normal flow of air.
- Mucus Production: In this condition, excess mucus is produced in the airways, which restricts the airflow.
When the airways get clogged or tight, you find it hard to breathe normally, and consequently, you make a wheezing sound during breathing.
Some people have intermittent asthma, which means the attack comes and goes away. But there are others for whom asthma becomes a significant problem. It interferes with their essential daily activities. Sometimes asthma becomes severe that it can put their lives in danger.
You can have asthma at any age of your life. But the people who have allergies or are generally exposed to smoke have higher chances of developing asthma.
Females are more prone to asthma than males. Moreover, people of color are more susceptible to asthma compared to other races. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. But you can control its symptoms with proper medications.
Asthma is also called by other names such as chronic asthmatic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, and reactive airways disease.
Symptoms Of Asthma
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
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What Are The Three Types Of Asthma?
The three types of asthma are as follows.
#1. Nocturnal Asthma
Nocturnal asthma is one of the most common forms of asthma. It usually occurs in the middle of the night. The patient wakes up suddenly and starts to cough or has chest pain and may find breathing difficult.
Researchers say that most asthma related deaths happen due to nocturnal asthma. Nocturnal asthma occurs for multiple reasons, such as
- Sleeping in a reclined position
- Changes in hormonal levels, or
- Exposure to different types of allergens.
Doctors usually recommend patients make changes in diet or give some eye drops and nasal drops to get rid of allergens.
#2. Exercise Induced Asthma
Asthma attacks can occur to some individuals when they are tired while doing their exercises. The airways become narrow for 10-20 minutes which makes it difficult for the patient to breathe normally.
This happens a few minutes after starting their exercise or just after completing the exercise. Doctors usually recommend an inhaler for this type of asthma.
#3. Allergic Asthma
Allergic asthma can occur when some people inhale specific types of allergens. The allergens include dust, pollen, mold, and others.
Some people develop allergic asthma because of their occupation, i.e., inhaling certain things like paint, gas, or metal. Sometimes taking some specific drugs like aspirin can also cause asthma. Some people have asthma only in the winter season.
Asthma Attack Triggers
You can have an asthma attack when exposed to triggers. The triggers can be different from one asthma patient to other.
Below are some of the most common asthma attack triggers as follows.
Smoking is very bad for an asthma patient. If you are an asthma patient, then quit smoking as soon as possible.
Sitting or standing near a passive smoker is also bad for an asthma patient. You should make your home a smoke-free zone. If anyone is smoking in your house, then advise them to quit smoking.
If you are an asthma patient, then people should avoid smoking near you or places where you spend more time. Smoking nearby can trigger an asthma attack which can be life-threatening.
#2. Dust Mites
Dust mites are bugs that we cannot see with our naked eyes. Some people are allergic to dust mites which can trigger asthma. You can avoid asthma attacks with some of the following tips
- Wash your bed for at least a week and allow it to dry completely
- Maintain the low relative humidity in your home
- Use allergic proof mattresses and beds
- Vacuum carpets and rugs in your house.
Pests like a cockroach can trigger asthma. You can prevent asthma attacks with some of the following tips
- Always try to store food in an airtight container
- Sweep areas that generally attract cockroach
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How Does Asthma Limit Your Ability To Do Work?
Asthma patients generally have tiredness throughout the day, sleep disturbance, and poor concentration. Asthma can make your daily life difficult.
A survey done on asthma patients (among 1500 people from Countries like Brazil, Canada, Spain, the UK, and others) discussed how the disease affected their work life. It was found that asthma patients cannot do one-tenth of their weekly work because of this disease.
Moreover, three out of four asthma patients reported they could not give their 100 percent to work because of this illness. Most of the patients reported feelings of depression, embarrassment, and guilt.
Treatment For Asthma
The inhalers help in relieving symptoms of asthma.
The asthma patient needs to take tablets to reduce symptoms of asthma. The patients who are inhalers also need to take tablets. The tablets include the following
- Steroid tablets
People with severe asthma may need to take injections like Fasenra for some weeks to reduce the symptoms.
Bronchial Thermoplasty is done in people with asthma who have severe symptoms.
Is Asthma A Disability Under SSA?
Yes, asthma is a disability, according to Social Security Administration(SSA) and the American Disability Act. But every asthma patient will not get disability benefits.
Some people can manage their normal life with inhalers and medication, whereas others find it hard to manage their daily life because of this illness. It depends on the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
The SSA has a list of conditions that qualify for disability compensation. Fortunately, you will find respiratory disorders(Section 3.00) in the Blue Book of SSA. Asthma is found under this section (i.e., section 3.03).
SSA can only give compensation if your asthma is a chronic condition that requires intensive treatment like:
- Intravenous Bronchodilator
- Antibiotic administration
- Inhalation Bronchodilator therapy for a prolonged time in hospital.
Moreover, an asthma attack should occur at least once every two months or six times a year and require hospitalization.
If you receive hospitalization because of an asthma attack for more than 24 hours, SSA will consider it two asthma attacks. Again during the evaluation, the SSA will also see the medical records for 12 months.
So, if you feel disabled and the condition hinders you from going to your work organization for more than a year, apply for Social Security disability benefits(SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income(SSI). If you are applying for teh first time, then the process of SSA may be a bit complicated.
Again sometimes, the application may get rejected by the SSA. But don’t panic because most of the disability claims are denied by SSA the first time round, rather than being accepted. You can take the help of a disability attorney in such a case for positive results.
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Can You Get Disability For Asthma?
Yes, you can get disability benefits for asthma. However, you need to prove that you cannot continue your work life for at least 12 months because of this illness. You also have to satisfy both work and medical benchmarks to get compensation.
#1. Work Criteria
To satisfy the work benchmark, you need to earn sufficient credits throughout your work life. Remember that you can acquire a maximum of four credits in a year.
#2. Medical Criteria
You will have to undergo a spirometry test. The spirometry test is done to check the functioning of your lungs. So, the test will determine how much amount of air you can inhale and exhale.
Moreover, the test will determine the rate at which you exhale air in one second. The end of the result will show your FEV(Forced Expiratory Volume).
Simultaneously you have to show medical records for 12 months. The medical records involve how often you had an asthma attack and how long you were in the hospital.
What Kind Of Medical Evidence Do I Need?
To get disability benefits, you need to submit medical evidence for 12 months to show the severity of asthma.
The medical evidence means all the documents that prove asthma severity and may help you give disability compensation. The SSA requires Pulmonary function test results, which include the following
- Spirometry: Measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs.
- DLCO(Diffusing Capacity Of the lungs For Carbon Monoxide): This test checks how much your lungs are capable of transferring gas from inhaled air to your RBCs in pulmonary capillaries).
- ABG (Arterial Blood Gas): The blood sample from an artery is taken, and the oxygen and carbon dioxide level are measured.
- Pulse Oximetry: measures the oxygen level in your blood or how well the oxygen is sent to various body parts like the heart, arms, legs, and others.
If you do not have these reports, then SSA will send you to one of their doctors for examination. Again if you use supplemental oxygen, then provide some proof to show the severity of asthma. You should also provide results of chest X-ray imaging for positive results.
Does The VA Consider Asthma As a Disability?
The increased exposure to toxins has increased the respiratory diseases in Veterans. Fortunately, Veterans receive disability compensation for asthma. But VA rates asthma at 10 %,30 %,60 and 100 %, depending on the severity and duration of asthma.
Two primary factors determine the rating. They are forced Vital capacity(FVC) and forced expiratory volume(FEV-1).
The forced vital capacity is the amount of air you forcefully exhale after taking a deep breath.
VA uses the ratio of forced expiratory volume to the forced vital capacity to determine the rating and according to which you get compensation.
The FEV-1 means the amount of air you breathe out forcefully in one second.VA measures the FVC as a percentage.
10 percent rating: The ratio of FEV -1 and FVC is 71 to 80 percent, and the Veteran needs oral bronchodilator therapy for treatment.
30 percent rating -The ratio of FEV-1 and FVC is within 56 to 70 percent, and Veterans daily need oral bronchodilator therapy for treatment.
60 percent rating -The Veteran should show the ratio of FEV -1, and FVC is within 40 to 55 percent to get a 60 percent rating. It requires at least a monthly visit to the doctor.
100 percent rating: The Veteran should show the ratio of FEV-1, and FVC should be less than 40 percent to get a 100 percent rating. Moreover, the Veteran should have more than an asthma attack, usually once a week, to get this rating.
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Is Asthma A Disability Under The Americans With Disability Act ADA?
The American disability act is a law that prohibits discrimination against disabled people. It defines disability as a physical or mental condition that affects more than one major life activity.
Asthma or allergies is considered a disability by ADA. So if you have asthma, ADA will protect you from employer discrimination like recruitment, promotion, benefits, and layoffs.
The business cannot refuse to employ you because of asthma or allergies. Instead, the business will have to create a friendly environment in the office that will be free from any asthma allergies or replace rugs and carpets within a fixed interval.
But sometimes, sometimes companies might try to make it hard for you to work, because it means an extra expenditure for them. So, if you have allergies or asthma and want an allergic-friendly environment to work in, then you should discuss directly with your manager or employer. They will find the best suitable place where you can work happily instead of having asthma or allergy.
If the company or employer try to deny your accommodation request, then you can request again. If they still don’t listen; you can file a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity(EEO) counselor or ADA coordinator.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Can you get a disability for asthma?
If you have asthma and the condition is severe that you cannot continue your work life for one year, then you can get disability benefits from Social Security Administration.
#2. How much disability is asthma?
The VA rates disability as 10,30,60, and 100 percent depending on asthma’s duration, severity, and frequency.
#3. How severe is asthma?
Asthma is a disease that affects more than 25 million Americans each year. If you have a severe asthma attack, then it can put your life in danger. So, it’s better to talk to your doctor to know which signs and symptoms need to visit the emergency room immediately.
#4. Can You Get Disability For Allergies?
Allergies can sometimes make your working life difficult or almost impossible. It is mainly true when you have allergies in conjunction with any serious diseases.
Unfortunately, SSA will not give you any disability benefits if you have severe allergies. But, if you have allergies linked to dermatitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or autoimmune diseases like Lupus and multiple sclerosis, then SSA will give you disability benefits.
A Few Final Words
Asthma is a severe lung disease. According to CDC, almost 25 million Americans have asthma. But everyone is not fortunate to get disability compensation.
You can get disability compensation from SSA only if your asthma is severe enough that it hinders your work life for almost one year. We thank you for reading this article and hope you like it.
Thank you for reading the article, we hope we answered all your questions regarding asthma and the disability benefits that you can get if you have this condition. You can ask us your questions and leave your feedbacks in the comments section below.