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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Will Congestive heart failure qualify you for Social Security Disability?

Congestive heart failure (CHF), also known as congestive cardiac failure (CCF) or simply heart failure, happens when the heart is unable to pump a healthy flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the rest of the body. Although the name implies that the heart has failed or stopped, this is not actually the case; the heart continues beating and there is no chest pain associated with congestive heart failure. Instead, the blood flowing out of the heart is simply slowed down.

Congestive heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in those over 65 and can happen for a myriad of reasons, from heart defects, infection in the valves or lungs, high blood pressure or thyroid disease to narrowed arteries, disease of the heart muscle or valve, chronic anemia, coronary artery disease or scar tissue left from a past heart attack. Whatever the initial cause, the heart muscle becomes damaged and blood flow slows.

The cause of congestive heart failure is due to either systolic dysfunction, which is due to the pump function of the heart failing, or due to diastolic dysfunction, which is caused by a stiff ventricle wall that is not relaxing properly. In the case of diastolic dysfunction the result is a low stroke volume.

Signs of congestive heart failure are dependent upon which side of the heart is affected and can range from a shortness of breath, tiredness and poor circulation to dizziness and weight gain caused by fluid retention and swelling in the legs and ankles. To clinically diagnose congestive heart failure an ultrasound may be used to determine the amount of blood that is being pumped with each heartbeat, an X-ray may be used to detect the size of the heart, an electrocardiogram may be used to determine abnormalities or blood tests may be performed to show infection.

If congestive heart failure is diagnosed, doctors will normally suggest rest, a healthy diet, weight loss and less sodium and water intake. Depending upon the cause of congestive heart failure, they may also prescribe various drugs such as beta blockers, diuretics, vasodilators, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or digitalis. In some cases a valve may need replaced and if congestive heart failure is allowed to go unchecked and causes irreparable damage to the heart, it may result in a heart transplant.

To properly evaluate disability claims for CHF, the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually needs at least three months of detailed records describing your medical history, physical exams, lab studies, and response to treatment. A record of your medical findings over an extended period of time is called "longitudinal medical evidence."

The reason SSA looks at your condition over an extended period of time is to see if your ability to function despite your condition will stay the same, worsen, or improve with treatment. SSA won’t wait at least three months to make a decision on all CHF claims; especially if your longitudinal medical records show that your condition has continued to worsen or has not improved with treatment.

If your condition is unstable when you apply for disability, SSA may wait until your condition stabilizes with treatment to see how well you are able to function at that time. That wait-time for stabilization to occur is typically 3 months. For example, if you are hospitalized with CHF, SSA may wait 3 months to see how well you do on medications after discharge.

If you or a loved have been denied Social Security Disability and you need to appeal your case , you should consult with an experienced Michigan or Arizona Social Security Disability attorney. Allan W. Ben P.C. is a Michigan and Arizona Social Security Disability law firm which can help you or your loved one with their case. We handle cases all over Michigan including Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County and Livingston County. We also handle Social Security cases in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Call are office toll free at 866-540-0677 or by email at

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