Heart Failure is also known as congestive heart failure. Heart pumps 70 to 80 ccs of blood with each heartbeats. Five million Americans suffer with heart failure.1 Heart failure is a condition when heart pumps less than 70 ccs of blood per beats. Heart failure is an impairment of heart that results in restriction of blood supply to muscles, peripheral tissue, and organs resulting in disability. The following article gives comprehensive information about Heart Failure, functional impairment caused by heart failure and does heart failure qualify for disability benefits? Is it advisable to hire disability attorney for winning SSD benefits for heart failure or CHF? What are the chances of winning social security disability benefits for heart failure or congestive heart failure?
Heart Failure And Disability
Heart Failure also known as Congestive Heart Failure is a pathological condition of the heart in which the heart muscles are not able to pump blood adequately. Heart failure is caused by weakness of the heart muscles. Heart muscles become weak when blood supply is restricted because of coronary artery disease. Heart muscles also get fatigued when heart has to pump blood against increased resistance as seen in patient suffering with hypertension. The conditions causing Heart Failure are usually irreversible but treatments are available to control the symptoms and allow an individual to remain functional. Altering the lifestyle, diligent exercise, decreasing salt quantity in the diet are some forms of home remedies to maintain a healthy heart. The best way to avoid Heart Failure is to control conditions like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and maintain an ideal weight.
Now, coming back to the question of whether Heart Failure or congestive heart failure is considered a disability, the answer to that question is, yes, it does qualify for social security disability benefits. Heart Failure results in symptoms like shortness of breath, which causes severe impairment of activities. The shortness of breath is often observed with exertion or even with light activities. The retention of water in lungs and extremities causes shortness of breath and edema of the feet. The water retention is caused by inadequate forward pressure generated by failing heart. The shortness of breath and swelling in legs causes extreme exercise intolerance resulting in severe impairment to maintain daily activities. Individual is unable to carry out activities of daily living or accomplish expected tasks at work. The functional impairment caused by heart failure results in disability because of inability to perform routine daily activities. Hence, an individual can apply for Social Security Disability due to Heart Failure.
What Are The Causes Of Disabling Heart Failure?
Heart Failure usually develops secondary to weakness of the heart muscles or increased peripheral resistance resulting from constriction of blood vessels. The weakness of heart muscles is caused by decreased blood flow to the heart muscles and increased peripheral blood vessel contraction is observed in-patient suffering with hypertension.
The causes of disabling heart failure is as follows-
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Hypertension or High Blood Pressure-
Hypertension causes increased blood pressure and increased peripheral vascular resistance. Heart then has to pump blood against increased resistance. Heart has to work harder to pump the blood against resistance, which causes thickening of the heart muscles during initial phase and later weakness. Thick heart muscles eventually become less efficient and weak heart muscles pumps less blood to peripheral tissue.
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Coronary Artery Disease And Heart Attack-
Coronary artery supplies blood to heart muscles. Blood carries glucose and oxygen to muscles. Decreased blood flow to heart muscles results in decreased oxygen and glucose supply. The condition eventually weakens the heart muscles or causes severe damage. The narrowing of the coronary artery is caused by obstruction of lumen by a cholesterol plaque.
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Arrhythmia Or Irregular Heart Beats-
Arrhythmia includes bradycardia (slow heart beats), tachycardia (rapid heart beats) and Irregular heartbeats. Arrhythmia interferes with blood output per beat. Irregular heartbeats can cause either reduced blood output or dilatation of the heart chamber that results in cardiac failure.
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Aortic Valve Stenosis-
The left ventricle (heart chamber) pumps oxygenated blood through aorta to peripheral tissue. Aortic valves separate the left ventricle and lower part of aorta. The valve is known as aortic valve. The calcified aortic valve in few cases causes narrowing of the opening between ventricle and aorta. The narrowed aortic valve is known as aortic valve stenosis. The heart pumps lower blood volume than normal, which follows heart failure.
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Endo-Myocarditis-
The infection of heart causes endocarditis and myocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of heart valve and inner mucosal lining of the heart. Myocarditis is an infection of heart muscles. Myocarditis causes weakness of heart muscles and decrease blood out put per heartbeats resulting in cardiac failure.
Disabling Heart Failure Due To Cardiomyopathy-2
Cardiomyopathy is a medical condition, which is observed when heart muscles are damaged. The damage heart muscles heal with fibrous tissue. Cardiomyopathy decreases heart function and results in cardiac or heart failure. Cardiomyopathy is observed in patients suffering with high blood pressure, diabetes or increase thyroid hormone. Patient abusing alcohol or cocaine also suffer with cardiomyopathy.
What Are Symptoms Of Disabling Heart Failure?
Some of the symptoms of Disabling Heart Failure are:
Non-Specific Symptoms And Signs of Disabling Heart Failure-
- Extreme fatigue and lethargy
- Exercise intolerance
- Appetite loss.
Specific Symptoms And Signs of Disabling Heart Failure-
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sudden weight gain because of retention of fluid
- Severe shortness of breath with exertion or while at rest
- Lower extremity edema because of retention of water
- Persistent cough because of fluid retention in lungs or pleural cavity
- Increased urinary frequency and renal dysfunction 3
- Abdominal swelling because of fluid collection in peritoneal cavity
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Increased blood pressure.
The diagnosis of Heart Failure should be made based on either one of the following observation-
- The heart size is measured at the end of diastole when chamber of ventricle is at maximum diameter. The heart failure is diagnosed when end diastolic dimensions of left ventricle is more than 6 cm.
- The claimant should have an EF of less than or equal to 30%. This should be the baseline ejection fraction of the claimant and not during an episode of Heart Failure.
- Image study suggests diastolic failure when posterior wall of the left ventricular and septal thickness is 2.5 cm or more.
Does Heart Failure Qualify For Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes use of a manual containing a comprehensive list of medical conditions which according to the SSA qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. This manual is known as Blue Book. This manual gets upgraded as more and more conditions are added to the list. If a claimant has a condition which is present in the Blue Book and meets the specified criteria then the claimant can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Based on the Blue Book, Heart Failure is a medical condition for which an individual can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if the claimant meets the below mentioned criteria.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits due to Heart Failure or Congestive Heart failure, the claimant should be under treatment at the time of filing for disability.
The criteria's for SSD benefits due to heart failure or congestive heart failure are as follows-
- Symptoms and signs suggesting heart failure
- Significant limitations impairing the ability of the claimant to perform normal activities of daily living or work related activities
- Claimant fails exercise stress test
- History of at least three or more distinct episodes of acute Congestive Heart Failure within the time frame of a year
- History of fluid retention in extremities, abdomen and chest
- The radiological studies should indicate enlarged heart, fluid retention in chest, abdomen and extremities
- History of treatment for over 6 to 12 months and fails to improve symptoms.
- History of emergency room visits, ICU admission and hospitalizations extending 12 hour.
The claimant is not able to perform an exercise equivalent of 5 Metabolic Equivalents or less due to any of the following symptoms and signs:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Three or more events of tachycardia
- Left ventricular dysfunction causing a significant decrease of more than 10 mmHG of systolic blood pressure from the baseline blood pressure
- Gait ataxia
Why It Is Advisable To Hire Disability Attorney For Winning Disability Benefits For Heart Failure?
In majority of cases of Social Security Disability benefits, the claimants who apply get their claims denied initially. This is because most of the claimants do not have any experience of how to present their case in front of the judge at the time of hearing. If case is presented with inadequate objective evidence then the judge or hearing officer may find it difficult to believe the disease is severe enough to be considered for SSD benefits. That is why it is always wise to hire an experienced Social security disability attorney to win disability for heart failure. An SSD attorney often has an experienced consultant preparing the case. The consultant employed by attorney most often has worked as nurse or physician assistant. Attorney will present the well-prepared case to judge that is supported by several objective evidences. The attorney also has significant knowledge as to what the judge might ask at the time of hearing and what information needs to be put in front of the judge at the time of hearing to win a disability claim. An SSD attorney is paid only after the claimant wins the case and hence the attorney goes all out to try and win the disability claim for heart failure for his or her client
What Are The Chances Of Winning Social Security Disability Benefits For Heart Failure?
Heart failure is considered for disability when symptoms of heart failure causes functional impairment. Impairment is considered disabling when individual is unable to complete daily task at work to the satisfaction of employer. Heart Failure often causes severe disability resulting in inability to perform any sort of work. Such a condition resulting in disability due to heart failure is entitled to get Social Security Disability benefits.
Chances of winning disability benefits for heart failure depends on detailed case presentation with reports of all the tests. Individual patient (claimant) should make sure to have all the medical records with regard to all the doctor's office visits, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and other tests that have been performed to evaluate the diagnosis and subsequent treatment for Heart Failure. Claimant should collect and save all the reports of blood test, radiological studies, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and all other test performed to diagnose heart failure. Claimant should document all the treatment prescribed so that the details can be used at the time of case presentation for disability due to heart failure.
Claimant can present the case with or without any help from experience disability attorney. The chances of Claimant winning disability benefits are higher when case is presented while working in coordination with the treating physician and an experienced disability attorney. Disability attorney can swiftly present the claimant's case with comprehensive data to support the claim to the honorable judge. The deserving claimant can be rest assured that he or she will have extremely good chances to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to Heart Failure.
Patients suffering from Congestive heart failure (CHF) report a poor quality of life because of physical symptoms, functional disability, emotional and economic burdens, frequent hospitalizations, and poor prognosis. Chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common yet devastating syndrome. Heart failure or CHF is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and other industrialized countries.4 Patient suffering with heart failure or congestive heart failure resulting in severe impairment do deserve social security disability benefits.
1. Heart failure in older adults.
Med Clin North Am. 2006 Sep;90(5):863-85, xi.
2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Maron BJ1, Maron MS.
Lancet. 2013 Jan 19;381(9862):242-55.
3. Chronic renal dysfunction and anaemia are associated with cognitive impairment in older patients with heart failure.
Pulignano G1, Del Sindaco D, Di Lenarda A, Tinti MD, Tarantini L, Cioffi G, Tolone S, Pero G, Minardi G.
J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown). 2014 Jun;15(6):481-90.
4. Congestive heart failure: public and private burden.
English MA, Mastrean MB.
Crit Care Nurs Q. 1995 May;18(1):1-6.