Currently, the only known cure for pulmonary hypertension is a lung transplant. This serious condition can develop at any age and can limit your ability to work. However, there may be financial help available to you if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension is different from a general diagnosis of high blood pressure. Instead, pulmonary hypertension specifically refers to the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries which carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The high blood pressure in these arteries can put stress on the heart’s right ventricle and cause it to expand beyond its normal size. This stress can result in heart failure.
While the condition is currently irreversible absent a lung transplant, there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms and reduce or delay the damage that is done to the body. Your doctor may talk to you about lifestyle changes, medications, and surgeries, for example. Even with these treatments, however, you may be unable to work and you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Eligibility
If you suffer from chronic pulmonary hypertension, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you qualify in any of the following ways.
You Meet the Requirements of Section 3.09 in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
Regardless of why you have chronic pulmonary hypertension, the Social Security Administration should find you eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you can document that you have a mean pulmonary artery pressure equal to or greater than 40 mm Hg as determined by cardiac catheterization when you are medically stable. This is the eligibility criteria for this condition that are specifically described in Section 3.09 of the Blue Book.
You Have Another Health Condition That Meets a Specific Listing in the Listing of Impairments
Pulmonary hypertension may not occur on its own. Instead, you may also suffer from other medical conditions that are specifically included in the Listing of Impairments. For example, the following medical conditions that may occur with pulmonary hypertension are specifically listed in the Blue Book:
- Chronic liver disease (Section 5.05)
- Liver cirrhosis (Section 5.05)
- Scleroderma (Section 14.04)
- Lupus (Section 14.02)
- Emphysema (Section 3.02)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (Section 3.02)
- Heart failure (Section 4.02)
If you meet the specific eligibility criteria for any of these conditions—or any other—you may be eligible for benefits.
Your Symptoms Are Equal in Severity to Another Listing in the Listing of Impairments or Are So Severe That You Cannot Work
Sometimes you are sick and unable to work, but your condition does not meet the technical requirements of any listing in the Listing of Impairments. In this case, the Social Security Administration may still find you eligible for Social Security disability if you can prove one of the following:
- Your condition is equal in severity to another condition in the Listing of Impairments. If you can prove that the symptoms of your pulmonary hypertension are equal in severity to the symptoms of another condition, you should be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
- You do not have the residual functional capacity to work. In other words, you are too sick to hold down a job that allows you to earn the amount specified as substantial gainful activity by the Social Security Administration.
Regardless of how you qualify for Social Security disability, you will need to file supporting documentation to prove your eligibility.
Don’t File Your Social Security Disability Application Alone
The unfortunate truth is that the majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. Many of these denials occur because of missing information or mistakes made when filling out the application. With the help of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, you can avoid a denial for these reasons. Our board certified lawyers can make sure that your application is complete and accurate. We can also help you if your application for benefits has already been denied. To learn more, please contact us via this website or by phone to schedule an initial confidential consultation.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.