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If I’m a Smoker, Can I Still Receive Disability Benefits?

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When it comes to applying for Social Security disability benefits, every case is different. At Hensley Legal Group, we rarely make generalizations about disability claims because of this. But it’s safe to say that if you’re currently a smoker, it will in some way affect your disability claim.

Whether it contributes to the reason you’re applying (for example, developing COPD) or raises issues of noncompliance, smoking can complicate your disability claim. However, a history of smoking doesn’t necessarily make you ineligible for disability benefits.

How to Qualify for Benefits with COPD

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The most common variations of COPD are bronchitis and emphysema. COPD blocks airflow in and out of the lungs to limit your breaths. Smoking is a leading cause of COPD, but not the only one. Other causes are air pollution and occupational debris, but smoking is the most common cause.

If you have COPD, you may find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to complete normal, everyday activities for work or living. Your symptoms make include:

• Shortness of breath
• Wheezing
• Coughing
• Tightness of the chest
• Respiratory infections
• Low energy
• Unintentional weight loss

If your COPD prevents you from working, it may be time to think about applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Knowing the Treatment Plans and Qualifications

Treatment plans are crucial to getting approved for disability benefits if you have COPD or another medical condition caused by a history of smoking. Some treatment plans for COPD include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and medication. Your follow-through on your treatment plan shows the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you’re doing everything you can to attempt to return to work, but just can’t seem to get better.

In addition to treating, your condition has to meet or be equivalent to respiratory disorders listed in the SSA’s listing of impairments. The SSA takes into account the entirety of your disability, however, so if you suffer from additional conditions unrelated to your respiratory disorder, they’ll take those into account when evaluating your claim.

How Continuing to Smoke May Hurt Your Claim

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All that being said, noncompliance is the big issue here with continuing to smoke while pursuing benefits. When you turn in as evidence all diagnoses and doctor notes for your disability claim, most likely, the recommendation from your doctor to quit smoking will be in there. If that is part of your treatment plan but the SSA finds out that you are still smoking, that is when noncompliance becomes an issue. Your credibility may become tainted and they will not be sympathetic. Other reasons include:

• Worsening your condition, especially if you have COPD, emphysema, or other lung impairments
• Affecting your heart as a result of your lung health
• Impairing your healing because of smoking
• Receiving a denial because your only conditions are a direct result of your smoking

Hire a Muncie Social Security Disability Attorney

Just because you smoke does not mean that you won’t receive any benefits, but that also doesn’t mean that it will be an easy case to try. You can trust the disability attorneys at Hensley Legal Group to take your case seriously; call or contact us online today for your free consultation.