Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”) is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing. The symptoms of COPD are progressively worsening and persistent breathlessness on exertion, eventually leading to breathlessness at rest.
Because a claimant is initially symptomatic upon exertion, the more strenuous a claimant’s job is, the sooner that person is likely to become unable to perform it. Thus, a laborer in the construction industry is much more likely to be found disabled soon after the onset of COPD, compared to a receptionist who spends most of the day sitting.
I represent a 55 year old floor tiler whose Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claim was approved today. His job required him to carry 100 pound boxes of tiles and sacks of grout. The administrative law judge (“ALJ”) found it credible that the level of exertion to perform the tiling work was precluded by the COPD. Had the claimant’s work required mostly sitting, then the ALJ would not have found the COPD to be disabling until it had progressed to the point where little exertion resulted in symptoms.
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