EVALI and Social Security: A Complex Relationship

EVALI and Social Security: A Complex Relationship

EVALI and social security
EVALI and social security have a tricky relationship. SSDA USA is here to explain why.

When you suffer from a disability, you may be wondering how you can obtain and maintain social security disability benefits. With the advent of vaping, new conditions have come about, more specifically, e-cig, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). But what is the relationship between EVALI and social security disability benefits? Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with guidance.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping involves the use of electronic cigarettes that may contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or cannabidiol (CBD). The e-cig device has a battery that heats up the e-liquid when the user inhales, thereby allowing the user to breathe in an aerosol. Many people mistake the aerosol for water vapor, but there are actually fine particles, heavy metals, and other dangerous substances in the aerosol the user inhales.

E-cigs were introduced in the U.S. in the year 2006, and they have evolved in a myriad of ways. Some e-cigs try to closely resemble cigarettes. Others are designed as hefty, large “tanks.” The latest and most popular vaping device is called the JUUL, and it is also probably one of the most potently addictive e-cigs on the market, since one JUULpod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

What Is EVALI?

Electronic cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) is a relatively new illness arising from vaping. People of nearly all ages have been sent to the hospital with difficulty breathing and even “glass lung.” Symptoms can mimic those of pneumonia, but patients usually don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. This is because an infectious disease is not the culprit for EVALI.

While investigations are still ongoing, the CDC has noted that vitamin-E acetate in adulterated cannabis oil cartridges is a potential culprit. However, vitamin-E acetate may not be the only cause of EVALI, and the CDC has urged people to stop vaping all e-cigarettes, if possible, regardless of whether they contain nicotine, THC, or CBD.

Additionally, the CDC encourages people to use FDA-approved cessation methods instead of e-cigarettes to quit smoking. As things stand, e-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved cessation method. 

While e-cigarettes are technically regulated by the FDA, there had been much leniency in regulation up until recently, when the Trump administration officially banned flavored e-cigarette pods (except menthol and tobacco).

How Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability?

Qualifying for social security disability benefits requires you to meet some criteria. You must adhere to the following rules:

  • You possess a condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), which, for the year 2020, is $1,260/month for non-blind individuals and $2,110/month for blind individuals, AND
  • Your condition has lasted or will last a period of at least one year (12 months) or will result in death

If you meet these requirements, you will likely qualify for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind. 

First, you must have worked a certain number of years. Depending on your age, you will need anywhere from 6 to 40 work credits (you can earn a maximum of four credits in one year). 

Also, you will need to present substantial, timely, and accurate medical documents supporting the claim that your condition is severe and that you cannot work because of your condition.

Why the Conflict?

Your Disability Determination Services (DDS) center will examine your case carefully. As part of their duties, they will ask you questions about your lifestyle. If they believe your lifestyle is contributing to your disability, you may not qualify for benefits. Therefore, you must prove that your medical condition would persist even if you made positive lifestyle changes, e.g. quit vaping or smoking.

If you cannot prove this, or if you are unwilling to make positive lifestyle changes to alleviate your illness, the DDS may conclude that your lifestyle is in fact contributing to your disability and that you are complicit in such harmful health developments. If this occurs, you will not receive benefits.

TIP: It can be difficult to apply for social security benefits on your own. In fact, many people don’t get benefits on their first application. Speak with an advocate from Social Security Disability Advocates USA. We will help you through every step of the process.

Can I Still Receive Benefits?

It is theoretically possible to receive social security disability benefits for EVALI. However, the issue is tricky. While many claim that vaping e-cigarettes help them quit smoking, it is the e-cigs themselves that play a part in EVALI. 

DDS officials may be sympathetic towards a smoker trying to quit, but they may point out that e-cigs are not FDA-approved cessation methods and that users should know the risks of such devices.

In the end, each case is unique. Whether you receive benefits depends on your specific health condition, your medical history, work credits, and whether you have the skillset to confront the DDS and others (e.g. administrative law judges) to prove your case. If you’re wondering about your social security benefits, don’t panic. Give SSDA USA a call for a free consultation.

Have Questions About the Relationship Between EVALI and Social Security?

If you suffer from EVALI or another disability, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today for a free consultation. You can give us a call anytime at (602) 952-3200. Also, you can reach us online through our contact form or through our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions bottled up; speak with an advocate today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

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