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Need Help Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits?

April 26, 2017

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Our friends at Disability Benefits Help recently sent us a very helpful article so that our supporters know where to turn when the time comes to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  Most of us know that it can be a complicated system to maneuver and we have found it very helpful to speak with an informed professional regarding our particular case.

Be sure to take advantage of this program established to aid persons with disabilities.  Find out today if you or your child qualifies.

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (or CF) is a rare, inherited disorder that results in mucus build-up in the lungs and digestive system. Living with “CF” can be difficult, especially as a growing child or an adult finding it hard to continue working. However, for those affected by a severe diagnosis, Social Security disability benefits may be able to help. If you or a loved one has CF, continue reading below to learn the medical requirements of disability benefits and the potential programs that may be available to you.
Medical Requirements

Qualifying medically for disability benefits starts with the “Blue Book”. This book contains all Social Security-approved disorders, as well as the severity necessary in order for an applicant to be eligible. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks over your application, they begin by comparing your diagnosis to its entry in the Blue Book. To determine if you may qualify, we must look to the Blue Book’s description of cystic fibrosis. CF’s entry can be found under Section 3 of the Blue Book: “Respiratory Disorders”. While it may look long and intimidating, this only means that people with CF have a variety of ways they can qualify medically for benefits. These include:

•Receiving a low enough score on an FEV test. FEV tests (forced expiratory volume tests) measure your ability to exhale properly. Depending on height, age, and sex, people need to be capable of expelling with a certain amount of force in order to pass the test. Those with low enough numbers qualify as disabled and are eligible for benefits.

•Symptoms requiring multiple hospitalizations. Most people with multiple CF-related hospital visits (more than three within a 12-month period, each at least one month apart) are medically eligible for disability benefits.

•Lung collapse requiring chest tube placement. Referred to in the Blue Book as “Spontaneous pneumothorax secondary to CF” (meaning lung collapse caused by CF). Those who require a chest tube due to this condition will qualify medically for benefits.

•Respiratory failure. Any person whose CF requires invasive mechanical ventilation, ventilation with a BiPAP, or a combination with both for at least 48 hours is considered at-risk for further severe lung trouble, qualifying them for benefits.

•Pulmonary hemorrhage requiring vascular embolization to control the bleeding. Those who experience internal bleeding in the lung (pulmonary hemorrhage) and require invasive tools to block off the affected blood vessels in the lung (vascular embolization) are medically eligible for benefits.

•Having low enough levels of SpO2. Those who receive a low enough score twice on a pulse oximetry test to measure the percentage of oxygen in their blood (SpO2) are medically eligible for benefits.

•Two of the following complications within a 12-month period: 10 consecutive days of necessary IV antibiotics; pulmonary hemorrhage requiring hospitalization; weight loss that requires daily supplemental nutrition via a gastronomy tube for at least 90 days; Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) requiring daily insulin therapy for at least 90 days.

If you are unsure whether or not you qualify medically for benefits, it is best to speak to your physician to analyze your case and compare it to the Blue Book’s entry.
SSDI and SSI

If you are medically qualified for benefits, then the next step is to determine which Social Security program may be best suited for you. While most applicants typically qualify for only one program, some are eligible for both.

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is for people 18 or older with a history of working and paying taxes. To qualify, applicants must have enough “credits” to their name, which are automatically earned up to four times a year by working taxable jobs in the United States. The older an applicant is, the more credits they require to be eligible for benefits. For example, while a 24-year-old needs only 6 credits (1.5 years of work) to qualify, a 46-year-old requires 24 credits (6 years of work).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for people under 18, without prior work experience, or with particularly low income. Instead of a credit system, applicants are eligible if they are considered too low-income to support themselves independently. Applicants must make under $735 to qualify, though some forms of income (half of earned income made from work, SNAP benefits, etc.) are not counted. Applicants under 18 are evaluated using their parents’ income instead. Income charts for all SSI applicants can be referenced on the SSA’s main website.
Starting the Application
SSDI applications are available online on the SSA’s website. The website also contains helpful information, such as lists of necessary paperwork and FAQs. You can also call your local Social Security office for help on your application, or to make an appointment to fill it out in person.

SSI applications are currently only available in person. However, to prep important information prior to your application appointment, the Online Application for Disability Benefits can be filled out on the SSA’s website. Applicants under 18 also require additional paperwork (found online) to gauge eligibility and give consent for doctors to forward necessary paperwork.
This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disabilitybenefits-help.org or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org.

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