Lung Transplant Social Security Disability Benefits

Lung Transplant – Overview

Due to enormous advancements in medical technology, procedures that were formerly believed impossible are now considered reasonably common. This is true in pulmonary transplantation surgery, most generally referred to as lung transplantation.

In 1963, the first ever human lung transplant was conducted, but the patient died 18 days later. Despite repeated attempts, issues with rejection of the new lungs and healing of the connection between the donor and recipient’s air passageways (or bronchi) harmed the surgery’ success.

However, with the later invention of the heart-lung machine and the discovery of more advanced anti-rejection drugs, lung transplantation has become a viable and rather routine procedure. In 1986, the first successful single lung transplant was conducted.

When a person’s lungs are damaged or otherwise failing and all other therapeutic options have been exhausted, lung transplantation is undertaken. Typically, donor lungs are removed from a patient who is clinically brain dead but is kept alive while preparations for the transplantation of their other healthy organs are made.

As mentioned previously, depending on the severity of the recipient’s lung illness, one or both lungs may be transplanted. For instance, the bacteria found in a cystic fibrosis patient’s lungs would entail the transplantation of both lungs, as the germs in the diseased lung might potentially transfer to the transplanted lung. Several conditions may demand a lung transplant, including the following:

  • Fibrosis Cystic
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis Idiopathic (Idiopathic means the cause is unknown)
    COPD (or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which includes emphysema
  • Idiopathic Hypertension of the lungs (Increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Sarcoidosis

Additionally, lung segments from two living donors may be used to build a single healthy lung for the recipient. Despite their decreased lung capacity, the donors can lead regular lives.

Despite enormous medical and technological advancements, lung transplant surgery still carries considerable dangers. The most serious complication is rejection, in which the recipient’s immune system mistakes the new lungs for foreign objects and attacks them.

As a result, recipients receive medicine that suppresses their immune system aggressively. These drugs significantly increase the recipient’s susceptibility to infection.

Applying for Social Security Disability with a Diagnosis of Lung Transplantation

Lung transplantation is listed as an impairment in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) impairment listing handbook (often referred to as the “Blue Book”) as a condition that may qualify a patient for Social Security Disability payments.

Unlike most other illnesses, there are no qualifying criteria; one might assume that anyone whose health has deteriorated to the point of requiring a lung transplant is already deemed to be incapacitated and unable to work.

The Blue Book does specify that a patient should be deemed impaired for a period of 12 months following surgery, with the patient observed and evaluated for any permanent problems.

This means that anyone who has undergone lung transplant surgery will be authorized for at least one year of disability payments, and maybe longer if their medical condition merits it.

Typically, patients are not permitted to drive for at least three months following surgery until their ability to move sufficiently to complete critical driving movements (checking for blind spots, for example) can be evaluated.

Due to the amputation of some nerves in the lungs, the recipient may be unable to detect the need to cough, resulting in the accumulation of fluids in the lungs. This, combined with the patient’s lifetime usage of potent immunosuppressive medication to avoid rejection, implies that the patient will remain extremely sensitive to lung infections.

While these infections are likely to be minor for someone with a healthy immune system, they can be fatal for a patient on these medications.

After Lung Transplantation, Your Disability Case

If you are a lung transplant recipient, you are almost certainly eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. While the Blue Book’s language appears to make approval of benefits for your condition a foregone conclusion, you would surely benefit from consulting with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.

Around 30% of initial Social Security Disability claims are granted. The remaining candidates are forced to appeal, which may drag on for months, if not years.

A case that might otherwise qualify for disability payments may be refused due to application and supporting documentation flaws or omissions. A skilled Social Security Disability attorney will be able to assist you in avoiding the stress and frustration associated with having your disability claim refused for these procedural reasons.

If you or someone you know has undergone a lung transplant, you do not require the added stress of a painful appeals process. Consult a Social Security Disability attorney to increase your chances of being approved the first time.