Enlarged Heart (cardiomegaly) and SSDI
Is an enlarged heart disabling?
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) and coronary artery disease are two of the most common causes of an enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. An enlarged heart may allow for insufficient blood circulation and may eventually lead to congestive heart failure, a serious and potentially fatal condition.
An enlarged heart can cause chronic and debilitating conditions as the hearts ability to function declines due to damage of the heart muscle. Generally, the condition is caused when the walls of the heart or the ventricles stretch and become thin. This type of cardiomegaly is called dilated cardiomyopathy, and it is the most common type. Other common conditions include hypertrophy, which is the enlargement of the left ventricle and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an inherited, genetic condition.
What causes an enlarged heart?
The common causes of an enlarged heart include infections, pregnancy, kidney failure, drug or alcohol abuse, HIV infection, and an abnormal heart valve. If you experience this condition you may also have the following symptoms (according to WebMD):
- Shortness of breath (especially with exertion or when lying flat)
- Leg swelling
- Increased abdominal girth
- Weight gain
- Palpitations or skipped heartbeats
SSDI and an Enlarged Heart
The Social Security Administration provides disability benefits to claimants who have a severe condition which does not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) the worker must also have enough work credits to be considered insured by the SSA.
How does the SSA determine if you are disabled?
The SSA has two methods to determine if applicants are disabled: does their condition meet or exceed a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or does the claimant have the residual capacity to continue to work (this is determined through a process called a medical vocational allowance).
The first step to win SSDI benefits for an enlarged heart is to get good medical care and a medical diagnosis. An enlarged heart may be determined with an Echocardiography, which is an ultrasound of the heart. The echocardiogram will measure the hearts pumping efficiency, size and thickness.
The SSA does have a listing for cardiovascular conditions which are listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments under Listing 4.00 Cardiovascular System. If your condition has caused chronic heart failure you may meet this listing and automatically win Social Security Disability Insurance.
What if your condition does not meet a listing? You may also win SSDI benefits, but you will have to prove that given your age, work history, education and health condition you do not have the ability to work.
For older claimants, above 55 years of age, this may be easier to prove, especially if you have only performed heavy labor and do not have the ability to retrain for sedentary work. Consider, however, it is important that you are under the care of a doctor and you are following your doctors prescribed treatment plan.
If your condition does not meet a listing it is likely that you will be denied the first time you apply and may need help from a disability lawyer.