Allsup Spotlights Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Stresses importance of disability benefits during COPD Awareness Month in November.

Call (888) 841-2126 or visit

They may not consider difficulty breathing or a chronic cough a disability, but if it impairs your ability to do simple tasks, it should be addressed by your healthcare team, and documented.

Allsup, a nationwide Social Security Disability Insurance representation company, is raising awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and its potentially debilitating effects, during COPD Awareness Month in November. COPD—also known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis—is characterized by difficulty breathing, lung airflow limitations, cough and other symptoms. It kills more than 120,000 Americans each year and causes serious, long-term disability, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The NHLBI reports that more than 12 million people are diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million likely have the disease but don’t know it.

“Typical COPD symptoms, like a chronic cough or difficulty breathing, are often brushed aside,” said Ed Swierczek, Allsup senior claimant representative. “People may not even mention these symptoms during a doctor visit because they don’t think it’s serious.”

However, COPD can be very serious, making normally simple tasks such as climbing stairs difficult or impossible due to shortness of breath. Many people are unable to continue working due to COPD.

A 2012 study found that COPD causes almost as much disability as stroke, and more disability than heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes. In addition, people with COPD were more likely to receive federal disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

SSDI is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program designed to provide a disabled worker with income until his or her condition improves. It guarantees income if the condition does not improve. Once the former worker meets retirement age, 65 or older, he or she stops receiving SSDI and begins receiving Social Security retirement income.

Swierczek encourages individuals with COPD symptoms to discuss them with their healthcare providers, especially if they are unable to continue working. Once COPD is diagnosed, there may be ways to alleviate symptoms (by using a personal oxygen tank, for example) and make job accommodations so a person can resume work, if they are able to do so.

If returning to work is not possible, having accurate medical records that reflect the impact of COPD is important when applying for SSDI benefits. “Individuals with COPD may have other conditions such as cardiac disease, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and psychological disorders that they view as their primary disability” said Swierczek. “They may not consider difficulty breathing or a chronic cough a disability, but if it impairs your ability to do simple tasks, it should be addressed by your healthcare team, and documented.”

For more information and assistance on SSDI eligibility, call (888) 841-2126 or visit

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to or visit Allsup on Facebook at

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Tai Venuti
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