Chronic Heart Failure
Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a potentially lethal condition where the heart cannot pump a sufficient amount of blood, which can then cause blood to accumulate in the vessels leading to the heart and can cause congestion or accumulation of fluid in various parts of the body. The precise part of the heart that fails impacts the damage caused. For instance, if the left chambers of the heart fail, blood backs up into the lungs, causing lung congestion. If the right chambers of the heart fail, blood backs up into the legs and the liver, causing congestion and swelling, called edema. CHF is usually accompanied by an enlargement in the size of the heart.
Symptoms of heart failure can be mild or moderate, including shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness, especially with exercise. CHF can also cause heart palpitations and dizziness. Treatment of CHF can be very difficult and involves rest, proper diet, and a variety of medications.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate whether a patient with CHF qualifies for disability under its listing for “chronic heart failure” which appears as listing 4.02. To qualify for disability benefits under the SSA’s listing for chronic heart failure, you must have been diagnosed with severe continuing heart failure despite being on heart medication. It is important to note that the SSA’s listing does not require that you have fluid retention at the time of evaluation to begin receiving disability benefits, but your medical records should show that you have suffered some fluid retention at some point in time. More specifically, the following typically must be shown to meet a disability listing:
• Your medical records must show the following evidence of either systolic or diastolic heart failure.
– Systolic failure: the heart’s ejection fraction (the percentage of blood pumped out of the heart with each heartbeat) is 30% or less during a normal period, or the heart’s left ventricular end diastolic dimensions are larger than 6.0 cm.
– Diastolic failure. thickness of left ventricular wall septum 2.5 cm or larger on imaging, an enlarged left atrium 4.5 cm or larger, and normal or elevated ejection fraction during a normal period.
To receive benefits under the listing, you must also be able to demonstrate one of the following symptoms:
• Inability to perform an exercise tolerance test (ETT) at a workload equivalent to 5 METs or less
• If an exercise tolerance test would be too risky, persistent symptoms of heart failure that very seriously limit your daily activities are required to be shown, or
• At least three episodes of heart failure and fluid retention within the past 12 months, requiring emergency room treatment or hospitalization for at least 12 hours.
If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.