Changes to Social Security's Disability Listings for Respiratory Disorders

Social Security has significantly updated its disability listings for respiratory disorders for the first time in over 20 years. Extensive changes have been made, including new values for various types of pulmonary function studies that qualify under the listings. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The number of hospitalizations required to prove the severity of chronic respiratory disorders other than cystic fibrosis have been lowered from six to three within one year (although the hospitalizations must now last at least 48 hours), as have the number of episodes requiring physician intervention required to prove the severity of asthma, cystic fibrosis, or bronchiectasis.
  • A new listing 3.14 for respiratory failure has been added, for any chronic breathing disorder except for CF that requires invasive mechanical ventilation, noninvasive ventilation with BiPAP, or a combination of both treatments, for a continuous two days (or three days if used postoperatively) twice within one year (at least one month apart).
  • The listing for lung transplants has been changed to state that claimants who have had a lung transplant will be considered as having a disability for three years from the date of the transplant rather than one.
  • The following adult listings have also been removed as unnecessary:
    • listing 3.06 for pneumoconiosis,
    • listing 3.08 for mycobacterial and other infections, and
    • listing 3.10 for sleep-related breathing disorders (Social Security’s guidance now says that these disorders will be evaluated under the listing in the affected body system. For example, Social Security may consider a sleep-related disorder that causes chronic pulmonary hypertension under listing 3.09, chronic heart failure under listing 4.02, and disturbances in mood, cognition and behavior under listing 12.02.)
  • The child listings have also been updated to parallel the adult listings in an age-appropriate way.

The next edition of our book Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting & Keeping Your Benefits will explain these changes in detail and the articles on Nolo’s website on Social Security’s respiratory listings are being updated.