Understanding your Eligibility and Avenues to Disability Access
When it comes to disabilities, COPD is tricky to define: in some cases, patients suffer severely and are unable to carry on with their daily obligations, while others are able to continue to work and live with the help of a few careful modifications. Since COPD symptoms can vary so much, it can be difficult to know which disability services you might be eligible for, and how to go about getting them. Fortunately, there are a few helpful resources to point you in the right direction, and some tips to get around the red tape that COPD patients may meet along the way.
Which Disability Benefits are Available?
Depending on the extent of your symptoms, you may be considered disabled under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which would grant you some tools and exclusions to help you live more comfortably.
When it comes to work, your employer is required to make accommodations to help you if your breathlessness, fatigue and other COPD symptoms interfere with your job. Common concessions include:
- Permitting you to work from home
- Schedule flexibility to allow for doctor’s appointments
- A parking space close to the building
- Ensuring a smoke-free and dust-free workplace
As for your life away from work, you may be entitled to some other helpful passes and allowances, such as:
- Handicapped parking permit. In most states, patients who have trouble walking 200 feet (61 meters) without experiencing breathing problems are eligible for a parking permit. If your disability is permanent, you may be able to get a handicapped license plate.
- Mobility bus pass. Many cities offer a free or drastically reduced buss pass for those with chronic respiratory conditions. You’ll need to provide proof of your disability, so ask your doctor for detailed documentation that you can relay to your local transit authority.
- Household help. People over 60 living with a disability may be eligible for low-cost help with household chores, yard maintenance and moving. The service is offered by Area Agencies on Aging, a state-run organization dedicated to helping older people continue to live independently. Depending on your state, you may have to pay for the services and then apply for reimbursement, or else the fee could be waived altogether.
How to Gain Access to Helpful Benefits
In general, COPD patients should expect to provide a thorough report of their medical history, test results, response to treatments and medications before being considered for disability benefits. In most cases, your doctor will need to fill out the forms on your behalf, providing any supplemental information that’s needed. You can apply for monetary disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, and more specialized passes through the specific transit authority, business bureau or local organization.
Many people are discouraged by the lengthy applications process, and it can be difficult to continue seeking help if your requests have been rejected. But don’t give up just yet: an honest, well-written plea can go a long way, so write a personalized note to the hospital, your doctor, or whatever authority you need to address. In the case of parking passes, appealing to the owner of the store you frequent or the hospital you need to visit for treatment can be the most effective way to get the access you need, while there may be other, lesser-known grants and social assistance programs that may be able to help.