Heart failure affects about 5.7 million adults in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one of every 9 deaths in 2009 included a contributing cause as heart failure. About half of those who are diagnosed with heart failure die within five years of being diagnosed.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who is disabled because of heart failure, he or she may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). As caregiver of someone who has heart failure, you can help them file for disability benefits.
How Your Loved One Can Medically Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two different disability programs. Disability Determination Services (DDS) handles the processing of the claims and reviews supporting documentation and medical records to confirm that the individual is considered legally and permanently disabled and that his or her condition meets the strict medical criteria specified for the listing in the Blue Book, which is the medical guide used by the SSA.
Heart failure is reviewed under the listing for chronic heart failure, the claimant must have a diagnosis of continuing heart failure despite undergoing treatment.
While the listing doesn’t require that the claimant have fluid retention at the time of the medical evaluation to receive benefits, the detailed medical records should show there was fluid retention at some point in time. Detailed medical records that indicate either diastolic or systolic heart failure must be provided to support the disability claim.
Systolic failure occurs when the heart has reduced pumping strength and it can be proven by either the heart’s ejection fraction is no greater than 30 percent during a period of stability or the heart’s left ventricular end diastolic dimensions are larger than 6.0 cm.
Diastolic failure happens when the heart doesn’t properly fill, and it must be shown by an enlarged left atrium of 4.5 cm or larger, thickness of left ventricular wall and interventricular septum 2.5 cm or larger in imaging, and normal or elevated ejection fraction during a period of stability.
Becoming A Designated Payee
When an individual suffers from heart failure, he or she may require the help of a caregiver. That caregiver may be asked to serve as designated payee, which means that they will oversee the disability benefits received by the claimant and ensure proper use of funds.
Because Social Security funds are only issued by electronic means, the payee must have access to the claimant’s bank account. Receipts should be kept to prove the funds were used for the claimant’s benefit. These funds can be used for medical care as well as basic living expenses, such as utilities, rent, groceries, and clothing.
How To Get Your Loved One’s Disability Application Underway
Medical documentation is essential to the success of a disability claim. Hard medical evidence is required, so when you apply for disability on behalf of your loved one, you will need to provide a detailed list of medical providers with their contact details.
There are three ways to apply for benefits – online, over the phone, or in person. You can visit www.ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 to complete the process online or to schedule an appointment at a field office.