Representing Disabled Clients for Over 25 Years

Social Security Lawyer

Donald H. Peters


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The listings in this section describe impairments resulting from respiratory disorders based on symptoms, physical signs, laboratory test abnormalities, and response to a regimen of treatment prescribed by a treating source. Respiratory disorders, along with any associated impairment(s) must be established by medical evidence. Evidence must be provided in sufficient detail to permit an independent reviewer to evaluate the severity of the impairment. Reasonable efforts should be made to ensure evaluation by a program physician specializing in childhood respiratory impairments or a qualified pediatrician.

Many children, especially those who have listing-level impairments, will have received the benefit of medically prescribed treatment. Whenever there is such evidence, the longitudinal clinical record must include a description of the treatment prescribed by the treating source and response, in addition to information about the nature and severity of the impairment. It is important to document any prescribed treatment and response because this medical management may have improved the child's functional status. The longitudinal record should provide information regarding functional recovery, if any.

Some children will not have received ongoing treatment or have an ongoing relationship with the medical community, despite the existence of a severe impairment(s). A child who does not receive treatment may or may not be able to show an impairment that meets the criteria of these listings. Even if a child does not show that his or her impairment meets the criteria of these listings, the child may have an impairment(s) that medically or functionally equals the listings.

Unless the claim can be decided favorably on the basis of the current evidence, a longitudinal record is still important because it will provide information about such things as the ongoing medical severity of the impairment, the level of the child's functioning, and the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms. Also, the asthma listing specifically includes a requirement for continuing signs and symptoms despite a regimen of prescribed treatment.

Evaluation should include consideration of adverse effects of respiratory impairment in all relevant body systems, and especially on the child's growth and development or mental functioning, as described under the growth impairment (100.00), neurological (111.00), and mental disorders (112.00) listings.

It must be remembered that these listings are only examples of common respiratory disorders that are severe enough to find a child disabled. When a child has a medically determinable impairment that is not listed, an impairment that does not meet the requirements of a listing, or a combination of impairments no one of which meets the requirements of a listing, we will make a determination whether the child's impairment(s) medically or functionally equals the listings. (See §§ 404.1526, 416.926, and 416.926a.)

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a disorder that affects either the respiratory or digestive body systems or both and may impact on a child's growth and development. It is responsible for a wide and variable spectrum of clinical manifestations and complications. Confirmation of the diagnosis is based upon an elevated sweat sodium concentration or chloride concentration accompanied by one or more of the following: the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, insufficiency of exocrine pancreatic function, meconium ileus, or a positive family history. The quantitative pilocarpine iontophoresis procedure for collection of sweat content must be utilized.

Two methods are acceptable: the "Procedure for the Quantitative Iontophoretic Sweat Test for Cystic Fibrosis" published by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and contained in, "A Test for Concentration of Electrolytes in Sweat in Cystic Fibrosis of the Pancreas Utilizing Pilocarpine Iontophoresis," Gibson, I.E., and Cooke, R.E., Pediatrics, Vol. 23:545, 1959; or the "Wescor Macroduct System." To establish the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis, the sweat sodium or chloride content must be analyzed quantitatively using an acceptable laboratory technique. Another diagnostic test is the "CF gene mutation analysis" for homozygosity of the cystic fibrosis gene.

The pulmonary manifestations of this disorder should be evaluated under 103.04. The nonpulmonary aspects of cystic fibrosis should be evaluated under the listings for digestive system (105.00) or growth impairments (100.00). Because cystic fibrosis may involve the respiratory and digestive body systems, as well as impact on a child's growth and development, the combined effects of this involvement must be considered in case adjudication.

Medically acceptable imaging includes, but is not limited to, x-ray imaging, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with or without contrast material, myelography, and radionuclear bone scans. "Appropriate" means that the technique used is the proper one to support the evaluation and diagnosis of the impairment.

Documentation of pulmonary function testing

The results of spirometry that are used for adjudication, under the 103.02 A and B, 103.03, and 103.04 of these listings 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, postbronchodilator 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 prebronchodilator FEV1 value is less than the appropriate reference value in table I or III, as appropriate. If a bronchodilator is not administered, the reason should be clearly stated in the report. Pulmonary function studies should not be performed unless the clinical status is stable (e.g., the child 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.

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 a child from performing age appropriate activities 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 103.02 and 103.04 must only be used as criteria for the level of ventilatory impairment that exists during the child'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 child' 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 child should be noted, and it should be stated whether or not a BTPS correction factor was used for the calibration recordings and for the child'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 child's ability to understand directions, as well as his or her effort and cooperation in performing the pulmonary function tests.

Purchase of a pulmonary function test is appropriate only when the child is capable of performing reproducible forced expiratory maneuvers. This capability usually occurs around age 6. Purchase of a pulmonary function test 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 pulmonary function tables in 103.02 and 103.04 are based on measurement of standing height without shoes. If a child 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. Arterial blood gas studies (ABGS). An ABGS performed at rest (while breathing room air, awake and sitting or standing) 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 a 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. Before purchasing resting ABGS a program physician, preferably one experienced in the care of children with pulmonary disease, must review the clinical and laboratory data short of this procedure, including spirometry, to determine whether obtaining the test would present a significant risk to the child.

  2. Oximetry. Pulse oximetry may be substituted for arterial blood gases in children under 12 years of age. The oximetry unit should employ the basic technology of spectrophotometric plethysmography as described in Taylor, M.B., and Whitwain, J.G., "Current Status of Pulse Oximetry," "Anesthesia," Vol. 41. No. 9, pp. 943-949, 1986. The unit should provide a visual display of the pulse signal and the corresponding oxygen saturation. A hard copy of the readings (heart rate and saturation) should be provided. Readings should be obtained for a minimum of 5 minutes. The written report should describe patient activity during the recording; i.e., sleep rate, feeding, or exercise. Correlation between the actual heart rate determined by a trained observer and that displayed by the oximeter should be provided. A statement should be made in the report of the child's effort and cooperation during the test.

    Purchase of oximetry 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.

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You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485

Call Social Security Professionals now to discuss your claim for free

You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485

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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