I am on the heart transplant waiting list. Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

Yes, you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your status on the heart transplant waiting list is either 1a or 1b.

As you already know, there are more people who need heart transplants than there are healthy hearts available for transplanting. Accordingly, people in need of heart transplants are assigned a certain status when they go on the national waiting list maintained by the United Network of Organ Sharing. The status reflects the priority in which they should receive a heart when one becomes available.

Those Who Are Assigned Status 1 Are Eligible for Social Security Disability

Currently, there are four potential statuses that you may be given when you are on the heart transplant waiting list. These statuses include:

  1. Status 1a. Patients classified as 1a are the most critically ill. They require hospitalization and life support measures, and they typically have a very limited life expectancy unless they are able to receive a heart.
  2. Status 1b. Patients classified as 1b are dependent on intravenous medication or a mechanical assist device in order to stay alive until a heart is received. They may be in the hospital or at home awaiting news that a heart has become available.
  3. Status 2. Patients in this classification are medically stable with just oral medications and are able to live at home until a heart becomes available.
  4. Status 7. Patients who receive this classification are on the inactive list due to a change in condition, but may get credit for time that they were already on the waiting list should they need to change to status 1a, 1b, or 2 in the future.

Patients who are assigned status 2 or status 7 are not automatically eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

However, heart transplant waiting list status 1a and status 1b are included on the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances List. That means that not only will you be eligible for benefits, but that your claim may be fast tracked.

Once your heart transplant surgery occurs, you may continue to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits pursuant to Section 4.09. Specifically, you may be eligible for benefits for one year post surgery or longer if you meet the requirements for eligibility pursuant to a different listing or because of your inability to work.

You are doing a lot of waiting right now. As you wait for word that a heart is available for you, please make sure that your right to receive Social Security disability benefits is protected and that your wait for Social Security disability is no longer than it has to be. Please contact a board certified attorney via this website or by phone today to learn more.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law