Disability Benefits for Cystic Fibrosis
About Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic (inherited) disorder that affects the lungs as well as other body systems such as the intestines, pancreas, liver, kidneys and sexual organs. Cystic fibrosis causes the secretory glands that produce mucus and sweat to function incorrectly. Instead of producing thin, slippery, watery mucus like the glands are suppose to, cystic fibrosis causes the glands to produce thick, sticky mucus.
This mucus normally functions as a lubricant that keeps the surface of particular body systems wet and moist, protecting them from infections, foreign substances (dust, smoke) and drying out. When the glands produce thick mucus instead, important passageways become affected and blocked causing numerous symptoms and complications (listed below). The disorder also causes an individual’s sweat to be heavy with salt, way more than normal. As a result, people with cystic fibrosis lose salt much faster. This can lead to addition health complications due to chemical imbalances if not managed properly. Learn about cystic fibrosis management at diabetes.org or any other reputable diabetes organization.
There is no cure for cystic fibrosis but treatment, medication, and management can reduce the symptoms. In severe cases, lung transplantation may be the only option if lung functioning gets worse enough. Lung complications are the leading cause for death for people with cystic fibrosis.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
As with most medical conditions, the symptoms of cystic fibrosis can vary widely between each case. Some people experience multiple symptoms at high severity while others experience few symptoms at low severity. The symptoms can get worse or better over time as well as come in waves (periods of high severity that come and go). Symptoms include but are not limited to the following:
- Delayed development in children
- Easily fatigued
- Inability to exercise much if at all
- Pain or burning sensation in chest and abdomen
- Weight loss and inability to gain weight
The thick, sticky mucus can clog tubes in the pancreas blocking the passageway of enzymes to the small intestine that help break down nutrients in food. This results in malnutrition due to the nutrients passing through the body without being absorbed. Other gastrointestinal symptoms include:
- Fat in stool
- Abdominal pain
As stated beforehand, the thick mucus can block the airways within the lungs. This leads to the possible symptoms below:
- Accumulation of mucus (coughed up as phlegm)
- Constant cough
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Occasionally coughing up blood
- Reoccurring infections
- Sinus problems
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
In some cases, males with cystic fibrosis are infertile. This happens when the reproductive organs fail to form properly while in the womb before birth.
Disability for Cystic Fibrosis
The Social Security Administration has a specified guide (known as the Blue Book) they use to determine if particular conditions qualify for disability benefits. Section 3 of the guide is related to respiratory system disorders and subsection 3.04 lists the severity requirements for cystic fibrosis.
3.04 Cystic Fibrosis
Applicant must meet the requirements for either A, B, or C.
A.) Applicant must have an FEV1 equal to or less than their height without shoes based on the table below
60 or less | 1.45
61-62 | 1.55
63-64 | 1.65
65-66 | 1.75
67-68 | 1.85
69-70 | 1.95
71 or more | 2.05
The requirements for qualification commonly utilize medical testing results to determine if a condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second) is the volume of air that an individual can blow out of their lungs in 1 second after taking a full breath.
B.) Applicant must have episodes of bronchitis, hemoptysis, pneumonia, or respiratory failure that occur at least once every 2 months or at least six times a year. At least 12 months of consecutive of medical documentation will be required to confirm the frequency of episodes. Any hospitalization that lasts longer than 24 hours for treatment will count as two separate episodes.
C.) Applicant must have continuous pulmonary infections with reoccurring, superimposed, symptomatic episodes of increased bacterial infection happening at least once every six months resulting in the need for nebulization or intravenous antimicrobial therapy.