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Chronic Heart Failure Grounds for SSDI Benefits in Massachusetts

Valentine’s Day is an apt time to raise awareness about the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the world, resulting in approximately 40 percent of all deaths in the U.S. – more than all forms of cancer combined. melonlovinggirl.jpg

Our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys know that the effects of heart failure could easily make you a strong candidate for benefits. However, simply handing in a sheet of paper with your diagnosis isn’t going to be enough to sway the administration’s review staff that you can’t work.

It’s important to not only have a full grasp on what your condition is and how it is affecting your specific abilities to work and function, but also the avenues for treatment and whether even major changes or drastic procedures will be enough to mitigate the damage.

Chronic heart failure may be a result of many different things, but it’s generally characterized by one of these common scenarios:

  • Systolic heart failure, which is when the heart muscle has an inability to effectively pump blood out of the heart;
  • Diastolic heart failure, which is when the muscles of the heart are stiff and don’t fill up easily with the blood they desperately need.

Then there are cases in which the blood may start backing up in other body systems, such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, legs or arms. This is congestive heart failure.

Causes of heart failure could be: Congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, an infection that weakens the heart muscles, heart attack or arrhythmias. You might also be at risk if you have emphysema, a malfunctioning thyroid or severe anemia.

Symptoms of heart disease might develop rather slowly or suddenly, depending on the cause. Either way, you are commonly going to see:

  • Irregular heartbeats;
  • Swelling of the abdomen, liver, feet and ankles;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness, feeling faint;
  • Cough;
  • Being awoken by shortness of breath or a need to urinate.

If your doctor diagnoses you with heart failure, there are some things you can likely do immediately that could make a significant difference in your longevity. Those include quitting smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, staying active and exercising, lowering your cholesterol and getting enough rest.

In some cases, your doctor will put you on a regimen of medications designed to keep your heart pumping strong, stop the blood from clotting and reduce damage to your heart.

In severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery such as an angioplasty or have a device, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator, installed.

End-stage heart failure could necessitate the need for a heart transplant (if you are a viable candidate) or the instillation of a balloon pump or ventricular assist device.

Your condition needn’t be this severe for you to qualify for SSDI benefits. Under SSA’s Cardiovascular System Section 4.02 on chronic heart failure, you would qualify for benefits with systolic failure or diastolic failure if your heart rate or size meets certain criteria. Additionally, it’s expected that sufferers will have either a severely limited function of everyday activities, or three or more separate episodes of acute heart failure in a year-long time frame or have an inability to successfully complete an exercise tolerance test.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Section 4.02 Chronic heart failure, Social Security Disability Insurance, Blue Book Determination, Last Modified Nov. 29, 2012
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Boston SSDI Seekers May Find Relief in 35 New Compassionate Allowances, Feb. 1, 2013, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog