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Social Security Disability and Heart Transplants

Heart Transplant – Condition and Symptoms

Even after decades of incredible progression in medical technology and treatment methods, there are still conditions that even the most advanced modern medicine can’t cure. Specifically, severely damaged or diseased internal organs. Thankfully, there is still hope. While the notion would have been preposterous a hundred years ago, today it is possible for a healthy heart to be extracted from someone with a deadly injury and implanted into the chest cavity of another human whose heart is no longer able to maintain its crucial life-saving functions.

Heart transplants are considered when all other medical options have failed, and the patient’s heart is unable to properly pump sufficient blood to the body. This disabling condition is termed as heart failure and can be caused by several conditions. They include but are not limited to:

  • Cardiomyopathy (Weakening of the heart muscle)
  • Congenital Heart Defect
  • Arterial Disease
  • Valvular Heart Disease
  • Failure of a previous heart transplant
  • Viral infection of the heart muscle

Since the number of individuals who require a heart transplant is significantly larger than the amount of potential donor hearts available, transplant centers typically have a waiting list. If a viable donor heart arises, the next patient on the list will have the opportunity to have the transplant if they act quickly. Patients need to respond promptly since the donor heart can’t stay viable for a transplant forever, they only have a few hours. During the procedure, the blood is temporarily circulated through the body thanks to a mechanical pump. Currently, a mechanical heart that properly works for long-term use is not available.

Once the procedure is over, the patient receiving the heart will be on hospital stay for the next two weeks before extensive cardiac rehabilitation. In addition, the patient will be evaluated for signals of rejection. Rejection is a potentially life-threatening problem after a heart transplant. It occurs when the patient’s body views the new heart as a foreign object that must be eliminated, so the immune system begins an assault on the new heart. The patient will be given drugs meant to lower their immune system for the rest of their lives, making them extremely vulnerable to infections.

Applying for Social Security Disability with a Heart Transplant Diagnosis

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes a heart transplant in their impairment listing manual, or Blue Book, as one of the several transplants that meet the administration’s strict definition of disabling conditions. Typically, most conditions that are listed in the manual are followed by highly specific diagnostic criteria that are required to be met before qualifying for monthly payments. However, a heart transplant is a rare exception; it’s just listed as a qualifying condition. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that the health of someone requiring a heart transplant is sufficiently disabling which would certainly qualify them for disability benefits.

Under the information in the impairment manual, the patient receiving a heart transplant is to be considered disabled for 12 months after the date of the procedure. Afterward, the SSA will evaluate the case based on any residual impact from the procedure.

As mentioned previously, the patient receiving a heart transplant or another organ will be highly susceptible to infections due to the immune-system suppressing medication. While these common infections wouldn’t be considered serious to those with healthy immune systems, they could quickly become life-threatening to those with a compromised immune system. Infections need to be carefully monitored and treated aggressively because of this.

Your Disability Claim Post Heart Transplant

If your health was negatively impacted to the extent that you require a heart transplant, you’re probably a candidate for Social Security Disability benefits. Even with the certainty that your condition qualifies you for disability benefits, it’s never a bad idea to get in contact with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer.

The Social Security Administration denies around 60% of initial applications for Social Security disability benefits. If you were denied, there’s not much you can do besides submitting an appeal and request reasoning for why your application was denied. Due to the dramatically large volume of cases submitted to the SSA and the Disability Determination Service (DDS), the appeal process may take months, even years, before reaching a solution.

To make it even worse, several denials are due to paperwork errors or omissions instead of someone not having a disabling condition. Working together with your medical professionals and a professional Social Security Disability attorney can help verify if your application and its support documents are sufficiently completed before being submitted, lowering the chance of your claim being denied.

If you or a loved one are have undergone a heart transplant, you do not need to add on the stress of dealing with the complexities of submitting or appealing your Social Security Disability claim. Contact an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer today to have your case reviewed and determine whether your case has a good chance of being successfully accepted by the SSA.