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Documentation of pulmonary function testing

The results of spirometry that are used for adjudication under paragraphs A and B of 3.02 and paragraph A of 3.04 should be expressed in liters (L), body temperature and pressure saturated with water vapor (BTPS). The reported one-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) should represent the largest of at least three satisfactory forced expiratory maneuvers. Two of the satisfactory spirograms should be reproducible for both pre-bronchodilator tests and, if indicated, post-bronchodilator tests.

A value is considered reproducible if it does not differ from the largest value by more than 5 percent or 0.1 L, whichever is greater. The highest values of the FEV1 and FVC, whether from the same or different tracings, should be used to assess the severity of the respiratory impairment. Peak flow should be achieved early in expiration, and the spirogram should have a smooth contour with gradually decreasing flow throughout expiration. The zero time for measurement of the FEV1 and FVC, if not distinct, should be derived by linear back-extrapolation of peak flow to zero volume. A spirogram is satisfactory for measurement of the FEV1 if the expiratory volume at the back-extrapolated zero time is less than 5 percent of the FVC or 0.1 L, whichever is greater.

The spirogram is satisfactory for measurement of the FVC if maximal expiratory effort continues for at least 6 seconds, or if there is a plateau in the volume-time curve with no detectable change in expired volume (VE) during the last 2 seconds of maximal expiratory effort.

Spirometry should be repeated after administration of an aerosolized bronchodilator under supervision of the testing personnel if the pre-bronchodilator FEV1 value is less than 70 percent of the predicted normal value. Pulmonary function studies should not be performed unless the clinical status is stable (e.g., the individual is not having an asthmatic attack or suffering from an acute respiratory infection or other chronic illness). Wheezing is common in asthma, chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and does not preclude testing.

The effect of the administered bronchodilator in relieving bronchospasm and improving ventilatory function is assessed by spirometry. If a bronchodilator is not administered, the reason should be clearly stated in the report. Pulmonary function studies performed to assess airflow obstruction without testing after bronchodilators cannot be used to assess levels of impairment in the range that prevents any gainful work activity, unless the use of bronchodilators is contraindicated. Post-bronchodilator testing should be performed 10 minutes after bronchodilator administration.

The dose and name of the bronchodilator administered should be specified. The values in paragraphs A and B of 3.02 must only be used as criteria for the level of ventilatory impairment that exists during the individual's most stable state of health (i.e., any period in time except during or shortly after an exacerbation).

The appropriately labeled spirometric tracing, showing the claimant's name, date of testing, distance per second on the abscissa and the distance per liter (L) on the ordinate, must be incorporated into the file. The manufacturer and model number of the device used to measure and record the spirogram should be stated. The testing device must accurately measure both time and volume, the latter to within 1 percent of a 3 L calibrating volume. If the spirogram was generated by any means other than direct pen linkage to a mechanical displacement-type spirometer, the testing device must have had a recorded calibration performed previously on the day of the spirometric measurement.

If the spirometer directly measures flow, and volume is derived by electronic integration, the linearity of the device must be documented by recording volume calibrations at three different flow rates of approximately 30 L/min 3 L/6 sec) 60 L/min 3 L/3 sec), and 180 L/min 3 L/sec). The volume calibrations should agree to within 1 percent of a 3 L calibrating volume. The proximity of the flow sensor to the individual should be noted, and it should be stated whether or not a BTPS correction factor was used for the calibration recordings and for the individual's actual spirograms.

The spirogram must be recorded at a speed of at least 20 mm/sec, and the recording device must provide a volume excursion of at least 10 mm/L. If reproductions of the original spirometric tracings are submitted, they must be legible and have a time scale of at least 20 mm/sec and a volume scale of at least 10 mm/L to permit independent measurements. Calculation of FEV1 from a flow-volume tracing is not acceptable; i.e., the spirogram and calibrations must be presented in a volume-time format at a speed of at least 20 mm/sec and a volume excursion of at least 10 mm/L to permit independent evaluation.

A statement should be made in the pulmonary function test report of the individual's ability to understand directions as well as his or her effort and cooperation in performing the pulmonary function tests.

The pulmonary function tables in 3.02 and 3.04 are based on measurement of standing height without shoes. If an individual has marked spinal deformities (e.g., kyphoscoliosis), the measured span between the fingertips with the upper extremities abducted 90 degrees should be substituted for height when this measurement is greater than the standing height without shoes.

Documentation of Chronic Impairment of Gas Exchange

  1. Diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide (DLCO). A diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide study should be purchased in cases in which there is documentation of chronic pulmonary disease, but the existing evidence, including properly performed spirometry, is not adequate to establish the level of functional impairment. Before purchasing DLCO measurements, the medical history, physical examination, reports of chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, and spirometric test results must be obtained and reviewed because favorable decisions can often be made based on available evidence without the need for DLCO studies. Purchase of a DLCO study may be appropriate when there is a question of whether an impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. The DLCO should be measured by the single breath technique with the individual relaxed and seated. At sea level, the inspired gas mixture should contain approximately 0.3 percent carbon monoxide (CO), 10 percent helium (He), 21 percent oxygen (O2), and the balance, nitrogen. At altitudes above sea level, the inspired O2 concentration may be raised to provide an inspired O2 tension of approximately 150 mm Hg. Alternatively, the sea level mixture may be employed at altitude and the measured DLCO corrected for ambient barometric pressure. Helium may be replaced by another inert gas at an appropriate concentration.The inspired volume (VI) during the DLCO maneuver should be at least 90 percent of the previously determined vital capacity (VC). The inspiratory time for the VI should be less than 2 seconds, and the breath-hold time should be between 9 and 11 seconds. The washout volume should be between 0.75 and 1.00 L, unless the VC is less than 2 L. In this case, the washout volume may be reduced to 0.50 L; any such change should be noted in the report. The alveolar sample volume should be between 0.5 and 1.0 L and be collected in less than 3 seconds. At least 4 minutes should be allowed for gas washout between repeat studies. A DLCO should be reported in units of ml CO, standard temperature, pressure, dry (STPD)/min/mm Hg uncorrected for hemoglobin concentration and be based on a single-breath alveolar volume determination. Abnormal hemoglobin or hematocrit values, and/or carboxyhemoglobin levels should be reported along with diffusing capacity. The DLCO value used for adjudication should represent the mean of at least two acceptable measurements, as defined above. In addition, two acceptable tests should be within 10 percent of each other or 3 ml CO(STPD)min/mm Hg, whichever is larger. The percent difference should be calculated as:  100 x (test 1 - test 2)/average DLCO. The ability of the individual to follow directions and perform the test properly should be described in the written report. The report should include tracings of the VI, breath-hold maneuver, and VE appropriately labeled with the name of the individual and the date of the test. The time axis should be at least 20 mm/sec and the volume axis at least 10 mm/L.  The percentage concentrations of inspired O2 and inspired and expired CO and He for each of the maneuvers should be provided.  Sufficient data must be provided, including documentation of the source of the predicted equation, to permit verification that the test was performed adequately, and that, if necessary, corrections for anemia or carboxyhemoglobin were made appropriately.
  2. Arterial blood gas studies (ABGS). An ABGS performed at rest (while breathing room air, awake and sitting or standing) or during exercise should be analyzed in a laboratory certified by a State or Federal agency. If the laboratory is not certified, it must submit evidence of participation in a national proficiency testing program as well as acceptable quality control at the time of testing. The report should include the altitude of the facility and the barometric pressure on the date of analysis. Purchase of resting ABGS may be appropriate when there is a question of whether an impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. If the results of a DLCO study are greater than 40 percent of predicted normal but less than 60 percent of predicted normal, purchase of resting ABGS should be considered. Before purchasing resting ABGS, a program physician, preferably one experienced in the care of patients with pulmonary disease, must review all clinical and laboratory data short of this procedure, including spirometry, to determine whether obtaining the test would present a significant risk to the individual.
  3. Exercise testing. Exercise testing with measurement of arterial blood gases during exercise may be appropriate in cases in which there is documentation of chronic pulmonary disease, but full development, short of exercise testing, is not adequate to establish if the impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. In this context, "full development" means that results from spirometry and measurement of DLCO and resting ABGS have been obtained from treating sources or through purchase. Exercise arterial blood gas measurements will be required infrequently and should be purchased only after careful review of the medical history, physical examination, chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, spirometry, DLCO, electrocardiogram (ECG), hernatocrit or hemoglobin, and resting blood gas results by a program physician, preferably one experienced in the care of patients with pulmonary disease, to determine whether obtaining the test would present a significant risk to the individual. Oximetry and capillary blood gas analysis are not acceptable substitutes for the measurement of arterial blood gases. Arterial blood gas samples obtained after the completion of exercise are not acceptable for establishing an individual's functional capacity. Generally, individuals with a DLCO greater than 60 percent of predicted normal would not be considered for exercise testing with measurement of blood gas studies. The exercise test facility must be provided with the claimant's clinical records, reports of chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, and any spirometry, DLCO, and resting blood gas results obtained as evidence of record. The testing facility must determine whether exercise testing presents a significant risk to the individual; if it does, the reason for not performing the test must be reported in writing.
  4. Methodology. Individuals considered for exercise testing first should have resting arterial blood partial pressure of oxygen (P02), resting arterial blood partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PC02) and negative log of hydrogen ion concentration (pH) determinations by the testing facility. The sample should be obtained in either the sitting or standing position. The individual should then perform exercise under steady state conditions, preferably on treadmill, breathing room air, for a period of 4 to 6 minutes at a speed and grade providing an Oxygen consumption of approximately 17.5 ml/kg/ min (5 METs). If a bicycle ergometer is used, an exercise equivalent of 5 METs (e.g., 450 kpm/min, or 75 watts for a 176 pound (80 kilogram) person) should be used. If the individual is able to complete this level of exercise without achieving listing-level hypoxemia, then he or she should be exercised at higher workloads to determine exercise capacity. A warm-up period of treadmill walking or cycling may be performed to acquaint the individual with the exercise procedure. If during the warm-up period the individual cannot achieve an exercise level of 5 METs, a lower workload may be selected in keeping with the estimate of exercise capacity. The individual should be monitored by ECG throughout the exercise and in the immediate post-exercise period. Blood pressure and an ECG should be recorded during each minute of exercise. During the final 2 minutes of a specific level of steady state exercise, an arterial blood sample should be drawn and analyzed for oxygen pressure (or tension) (PO2), carbon dioxide pressure (or tension) (PCO2), and pH. At the discretion of the testing facility, the sample may be obtained either from an indwelling arterial catheter or by direct arterial puncture. If possible, in order to evaluate exercise capacity more accurately, a test site should be selected that has the capability to measure minute ventilation, O2 consumption, and carbon dioxide (CO2) production. If the claimant fails to complete 4 to 6 minutes of steady state exercise, the testing laboratory should comment on the reason and report the actual duration and levels of exercise performed. This comment is necessary to determine if the individual 's test performance was limited by lack of effort or other impairment (e.g., cardiac, peripheral vascular, musculoskeletal, neurological). The exercise test report should contain representative ECG strips taken before, during and after exercise; resting and exercise arterial blood gas values; treadmill speed and grade settings, or, if a bicycle ergometer was used, exercise levels expressed in watts or kpm/min; and the duration of exercise. Body weight also should be recorded. If measured, O2 consumption (STPD), minute ventilation (BTPS), and CO2 production (STPD) also should be reported. The altitude of the test site, its normal range of blood gas values, and the barometric pressure on the test date must be noted.

Chronic cor pulmonale and pulmonary vascular disease

The establishment of an impairment attributable to irreversible cor pulmonale secondary to chronic pulmonary hypertension requires documentation by signs and laboratory findings of right ventricular overload or failure (e.g., an early diastolic right-sided gallop on auscultation, neck vein distension, hepatomegaly, peripheral edema, right ventricular outflow tract enlargement on x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, right ventricular hypertrophy on ECG, and increased pulmonary artery pressure measured by right heart catheterization available from treating sources).

Cardiac catheterization will not be purchased. Because hypoxemia may accompany heart failure and is also a cause of pulmonary hypertension, and may be associated with hypoventilation and respiratory acidosis, arterial blood gases may demonstrate hypoxemia (decreased PO2), CO2 retention (increased PCO2), and acidosis (decreased pH). Polycythemia with an elevated red blood cell count and hernatocrit may be found in the presence of chronic hypoxemia.

P-pulmonale on the ECG does not establish chronic pulmonary hypertension or chronic cor pulmonale. Evidence of florid right heart failure need not be present at the time of adjudication for a listing (e.g., 3.09) to be satisfied, but the medical evidence of record should establish that cor pulmonale is chronic and irreversible.

Sleep-related breathing disorders

Sleep-related breathing disorders (sleep apneas) are caused by periodic cessation of respiration associated with hypoxemia and frequent arousals from sleep. Although many individuals with one of these disorders will respond to prescribed treatment, in some, the disturbed sleep pattern and associated chronic nocturnal hypoxemia cause daytime sleepiness with chronic pulmonary hypertension and/or disturbances in cognitive function. Because daytime sleepiness can affect memory, orientation and personality, a longitudinal treatment record may be needed to evaluate mental functioning.

Not all individuals with sleep apnea develop a functional impairment that affects work activity. When any gainful work is precluded, the physiologic basis for the impairment may be chronic cor pulmonale. Chronic hypoxemia due to episodic apnea may cause pulmonary hypertension (see 3.00G and 3.09). Daytime somnolence may be associated with disturbance in cognitive vigilance. Impairment of cognitive function may be evaluated under organic mental disorders (12.02).

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You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485
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Call Social Security Professionals now to discuss your claim for free

You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485
FREE CONSULTATION

Southfield Lawyer Donald Peters of the Law Office of Donald H. Peters, P.C. in Southfield, Michigan, handles Social Security Disability claims throughout Michigan and in the Tri-County Metro Detroit area including Detroit, Southfield, Novi, Warren, Royal Oak, Roseville, Livonia, Mount Clemens, Sterling Heights, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Berkley, Oak Park, West Bloomfield, Ann Arbor, Eastpointe, Waterford, Flint, Canton, Taylor, Romulus, Westland, Clinton Township, Troy, Dearborn, Brighton, Howell, Pontiac, Rochester Hills,  as well as Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County, Ingham County, and Livingston County, Michigan.

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