Breathing is one of the functions most basic to life. If you have a condition that negatively affects your respiratory function, it could prevent you from working and supporting yourself. If this is the case, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

However, in order to qualify for SSD with a respiratory disorder, you need to provide medical evidence of its severity. Among the diagnostic tools used to make this assessment are pulmonary function tests, of which there are several different types. Each has its own purpose and requirements.

Pulse oximetry

Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive test that involves clipping a probe onto your earlobe or fingertip. The probe emits light, which it uses to measure the level of oxygen in your blood. For the test results to be valid, you must be breathing room air at the time rather than receiving supplemental oxygen.

Arterial blood gases

An ABG test measures the levels of certain chemicals in your blood. To perform the test, your doctor will have to use a needle to draw a small blood sample for testing.

Spirometry

A spirometer is a device that measures how much air you exhale and inhale, as well as how quickly. These measurements help to gauge how well your lungs are working. A spirometry test involves blowing into a tube that attaches to the spirometer.

It is important to carefully follow the instructions you receive from your doctor before performing the spirometry test. Otherwise, the results may not be accurate.

DLCO

The full name of this test is, “diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide.” Though the name may seem long and intimidating, it is actually a relatively simple test that involves holding your breath for 10 seconds and then blowing into a mouthpiece. The purpose of the test is to gauge how well gases transfer from your lungs when you inhale through the pulmonary capillaries and into your bloodstream.

The results of these tests will help the Social Security Administration assess the severity of your respiratory disorder.