An estimated 2,000 people undergo heart transplant surgery each year in the U.S., according to Cleveland Clinic. Heart transplants can provide patients living with end-stage heart disease with longer survival and improved quality of life. However, the path of recovery for heart transplant patients is long and challenging, and there are various complications that may arise. The new heart may not work as expected, the body may reject it, or the patient may develop serious infections. Careful monitoring is essential.
In many cases, transplant patients will be out of work for months. For more information about collecting Social Security disability for a heart transplant in Pittsburgh, call our caring, knowledgeable disability lawyers at Berger and Green for a no-cost consultation: 412-661-1400.
Does the SSA consider heart transplant patients as disabled?
The SSA keeps a list of impairments that it considers disabling in the Blue Book. Heart transplant is one of the listed conditions. For most conditions in the Blue Book, the SSA provides in-depth severity criteria that the applicant must prove in order to meet the listing. However, the heart transplant listing is much simpler. There are no secondary severity requirements because the SSA recognizes that the health of a person who needs a transplant has already deteriorated to point to warrant a disability determination.
As such, the SSA will deem all heart transplant recipients disabled for one year following their transplant surgery.
Will the SSA terminate my disability benefits at the end of the year?
When one year has elapsed from the time of surgery, the SSA will reevaluate your case to determine if you can work or if you are still disabled. For instance, many heart transplant recipients develop other health conditions that the SSA considers disabling, such as:
- Liver or kidney disease
- Bone fractures
- Chronic heart failure
- Coronary heart disease
If you have other conditions like those above, the SSA will evaluate you under the respective listings. Even if you do not meet a listing requirement at that time, the SSA might still deem you disabled if your records indicate that you have limitations that prevent you from working. It is highly recommended to have one of our disability lawyers assist you with you with your claim to prove your condition to the SSA and prevent a lapse in your benefits.
Do I have to wait until the heart transplant surgery to apply for benefits?
Nationwide, almost 4,000 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Because doctors know that the waiting period may be months or years, they often place patients on the list as soon as practicable.
If you have been placed on a waiting list for a heart transplant, your condition may be such that that you already qualify for benefits. You certainly do not have to wait to undergo surgery before you file an application. Speak to a disability lawyer at Berger and Green about your case and discuss when would be the best time to submit your claim.
What criteria must I satisfy to obtain disability benefits for a heart transplant?
There are several criteria that all patients must prove in order to collect Social Security disability benefits. These include the following:
- You must have a condition on the SSA’s listing of impairments (i.e., a heart transplant) or another condition that impairs your ability to work.
- Your condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or more or result in death.
- You must be unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” or SGA, which is the SSA’s term for earning more than a certain amount each month. (In 2017, if you earn more than $1,170/month, you are engaging in SGA and will be ineligible for benefits.)
You must also meet certain financial or work history requirements to qualify for benefits. Disabled workers applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits must have a certain number of work credits on their record, the exact number of which depends on your age. Older claimants need more credits.
Those with limited income, resources, and work history who are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) must meet certain income guidelines. The guidelines stipulate that your income must fall below the Federal Benefit Rate and you must have less than $2,000 in assets.
Our team can help you determine whether you qualify.
How do I prove I am disabled due to my heart transplant?
You will need to submit detailed information about your medical providers so the adjudicator can order your medical records and determine the validity and severity of your disability. Records the SSA will need include:
- Objective medical tests (bloodwork, imaging tests, ECG, echocardiogram, etc.)
- Physical exam results
- Treatments you have undergone and your reaction to them
- Prescriptions you are taking
- Doctor’s notes on your functional capacities and limitations
- Your prognosis
Call Berger and Green for Help with Your Disability Claim in Pittsburgh
A Social Security disability lawyer in Pittsburgh at Berger and Green can help you with all aspects of your disability claim for a heart transplant, from filing the initial claim and collecting evidence, to reevaluations at the one-year post-surgery mark and appeals.
Because we believe that everyone filing for disability deserves access to legal counsel regardless of their ability to pay, we offer our services on a contingency basis which means we do not charge a dime until you win your benefits. There are no upfront expenses on your part, and the initial consultation is free. Contact us today to see how we may be of service to you: 412-661-1400.