Statistically, approx 6 million Americans live with heart failure, and over 670,000 heart failure conditions are diagnosed annually. Heart failure occurs when blood moves through the heart slower than normal causing increased pressure to the heart. Increased pressure in the heart may cause its walls to become stiff and thickened, or stretched and thin. It may also cause the kidneys to retain more water and fluid. Fluid buildup in the arms, ankles, and feet cause the body to become congested hence, the term congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure describes a condition where fluid accumulates in different parts of the body, or blood accumulates in the heart vessels due to the inability of the blood to pump sufficient amount of blood. CHF may be caused by various factors but, it is mostly due to some form of disease like coronary artery disease. It can also be caused by cardiomyopathy, heart disease, anemia, diabetes, HIV/aids, cancer treatments, etc. Common symptoms of the disease include unexplainable weight gain, persistent coughing, anorexia, heart palpitations, fatigue, swollen joints, among others. Heart failure can be treated surgically (like coronary bypass) or with medication.
Qualifying for disability benefits with heart failure
The SSA recognizes and lists some severe forms of cardiac impairments in a special section (4.00) of the Blue Book. If you can provide medical evidence which shows that you meet the requirements of the disability listing, you should be able to qualify for benefits. Worthy of note is the fact that all cases of cardiac impairments do not qualify for disability benefits with Social Security. It is always advisable for claimants to work with attorneys who can help them through the process faster and efficiently. To satisfy the requirements, the SSA expects that (1) you must have experienced diastolic or systolic heart failure (2) you should be unable to perform daily activities (3) you must have had at least three episodes of acute CHF over the period of one year or fail an exercise tolerance test.
Qualifying for a medical vocational allowance with heart failure
If you fail to meet the criteria in the disability listing, you may qualify for a medical vocational allowance through your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). A consultative examiner will review your medical records to see what work you can do in spite of your functional limitations. The disability examiner will determine what level of work you are capable of doing, whether sedentary, light or medium. If your RFC report reveals that you are not capable of doing any work, Social Security will give you a medical vocational allowance. It is important to know that if your condition gets better and you no longer suffer functional limitations, you will get an RFC for heavy work or even no RFC at all. It is essential you gather as much medical evidence as you can better describe your condition and the limitations you suffer. This will help reduce the chances of denial and expedite the process. You must take every detail into account, and ensure that your primary care physician and cardiologist includes information about how your disability affects your ability walk, stand, bend, carry, or perform any basic activity, etc. All these provide clarity and help Social Security reach a fair decision much faster.