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Social Security Disability

If you or a loved one has questions about your North Carolina Social Security Disability benefits, contact our experienced attorneys to figure out your next steps.

North Carolina Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. It results from lung damage that occurs over many years. Once the damage is done, there is no undoing it. COPD cannot be cured. Its victims eventually die simply from not being able to draw a breath.

Most people with COPD contracted the disease by smoking. Genetic factors also play a role. But COPD also occurs in people who have had long-term exposure to other things that can irritate their lungs, like certain chemicals, dust or fumes in the workplace, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says. (This is known as “environmental exposure.”)

If a person has contracted COPD, they may be eligible for financial assistance for the years of medical expenses ahead of them through filing a Social Security Disability claim.

If you have been diagnosed with COPD and your initial claim for SSD benefits was denied, call the North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers at Hardison & Cochran. We are dedicated to securing benefits for those suffering from COPD. Call us today at (800) 434-8399 or complete our online form for a free case review. We help clients throughout North Carolina, including in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Fayetteville.

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What is COPD?

The Mayo Clinic defines chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it increasingly difficult for you to breathe.

COPD is often a mix of two diseases:

  • Chronic bronchitis – When the airways that carry air to the lungs (bronchial tubes) become inflamed and overproduce mucus. This narrows and/or blocks the airways.
  • Emphysema – When the tiny air sacs in the lungs that collect and transfer oxygen to the bloodstream are damaged and lose their stretch. This causes the lungs to process less oxygen.

COPD sufferers are typically diagnosed after they have had a lingering cough (which may include coughing up mucous) and/or find that even mild activity leaves them fatigued and unable to catch their breath. They may also have repeated respiratory infections, or find that they are wheezing or are simply having trouble breathing.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), says most people who are at risk for getting COPD have never even heard of it.

The main risks for COPD are:

  • Smoking – COPD most often occurs in people age 40 and older who have a history of smoking. In fact, smoking accounts for as many as 9 out of 10 COPD-related deaths, the NHLBI says. But as many as 1 out of 6 people with COPD never smoked.
  • Environmental exposure – COPD sufferers are also people who have had long-term exposure to certain chemicals, gases, dust or fumes in the workplace. Heavy or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke (being around a smoker) or other air pollutants may also contribute to COPD. The COPD Foundation says approximately 15 percent of all COPD cases are due to occupational exposure to smoke and other pollutants.
  • Genetic factors – A rare genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin, or AAT, deficiency can cause COPD. AAT deficiency occurs in about 100,000 Americans, the NHLBI says. People with AAT deficiency can get COPD even if they have never smoked or had long-term exposure to harmful pollutants.

Medication and pulmonary rehabilitation (exercise techniques, nutrition advice and counseling for coping with a new lifestyle) can help COPD sufferers.

COPD medications include inhalers (bronchodilators) to open the airways, such as ipratropium (Atrovent), tiotropium (Spiriva), salmeterol (Serevent), formoterol (Foradil), or albuterol; and anti-inflammatory medications, such as montelukast (Singulair) and roflimulast. Some of these names may be familiar to you because of frequent TV commercials.

Sometimes COPD symptoms suddenly get worse. Antibiotics may be prescribed to combat any possible infections. Eventually, the COPD patient will go on oxygen therapy and then use a breathing machine to supplement the low level of oxygen naturally making its way into the bloodstream.

Like those who battle other chronic diseases, COPD sufferers are susceptible to depression and other emotional problems. Psychological help or participation on a COPD support group may become a part of the patient’s coping regimen.

COPD and Workplace Exposure

A case-control study of COPD and occupational exposure by the Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon, found that occupational exposures most strongly associated with COPD were diesel exhaust, irritant gases and vapors, mineral dust and metal dust. These findings held up among smokers and in the small group of workers in the study who never smoked, the study authors said.

More pointedly, Great Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness, says its review of available research suggests the following substances have the potential to cause COPD:

  • Cadmium dust / fumes
  • Coal dust
  • Cotton dust
  • Grain and flour dust
  • Mineral dust
  • Organic dusts
  • Silica dust
  • Welding fumes.

The following occupations are linked with a possible increased chance of getting COPD, according to the HSE:

  • Agriculture
  • Brick making
  • Cadmium workers
  • Coal mining
  • Construction, building trades
  • Dock workers
  • Flour and grain workers in the food industry
  • Foundry workers
  • Petroleum workers
  • Pottery / ceramic workers
  • Quarrying
  • Rubber and plastics manufacturing
  • Stonemasonry
  • Textile workers
  • Welders.

The Challenges of a North Carolina COPD Social Security Disability Claim

At Hardison & Cochran, we know the challenges of making a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits related to COPD. We can help present evidence to establish how you contracted the disease, such as an assessment of the duration of your exposure to workplace toxins, the use of or lack of personal protective equipment such as respirators and a description of the ventilation and overall hygiene of your workplace to quantify your exposure.

Additional information could be obtained through a visit to your workplace by experts in occupational hygiene with whom we work in such cases, from material safety data sheets for workplace chemicals and from the manufacturers of substances used in your workplace.

A North Carolina Social Security Disability attorney experienced with filing claims for SSD benefits in COPD cases will know how to document and demonstrate the disease and its impact on your ability to earn a living.

Our Raleigh Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Lawyers Are Ready To Help

Hardison & Cochran has handled many injury and Social Security Disability cases in North Carolina in which the person filing for disability benefits suffered from COPD. If you or a loved one needs a lawyer to assist with your SSD benefits claim, call Hardison & Cochran today at (800) 434-8399 or use our online form. We’ll respond within 24 hours and set up a free initial consultation about your case.

Our Raleigh Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Lawyers Are Ready To Help

Hardison & Cochran has handled many injury and Social Security Disability cases in North Carolina in which the person filing for disability benefits suffered from COPD. If you or a loved one needs a lawyer to assist with your SSD benefits claim, call Hardison & Cochran today at (800) 434-8399 or use our online form. We’ll respond within 24 hours and set up a free initial consultation about your case.

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