Asthma can result in breathlessness and extreme sensitivity to fumes, odor, smoke, dust particles, and a variety of other contaminants that may be present in a work environment. Therefore, it would seem that this condition should qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It is, however, more complicated.
If you suffer from chronic asthmatic bronchitis, which means that you frequently suffer from asthma attacks that last for a minimum of one day, or suffer from asthma attacks at least six times a year, you may qualify for benefits. If you meet the above criteria, you must provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) medical documentation of your condition and symptoms, including a doctor’s summary, results of lab and diagnostic tests, evidence of hospitalization, and your results on asthma tests.
Some cases of asthma may be severe, but may not meet the above-mentioned criteria. What happens then? In such a case, SSA will usually consider your claim for disability benefits under the medical vocational allowance doctrine. This means that the agency will consider a number of factors including your age and work history, and will also determine your residual functional capacity. This refers to your ability to perform any job to a reasonable extent.
If your condition makes you allergic to toxins in the environment such as odors or dust, or makes you very sensitive to extreme heat or cold, you may not be able to perform certain jobs. In such a case, the agency will consider whether you can work in other types of environments.
If SSA determines that there is no work environment in which you can be expected to function in a normal capacity, it will generally approve your claim.