Cardiovascular health is among the factors the Social Security Administration will review when determining whether or not an individual qualifies for disability insurance benefits. Ejection fraction, an important measurement in identifying chronic heart failure, can come into play when determining eligibility. The specific listings for SSDI qualification are strict, though some individuals can qualify through age, performance decline, and an evaluation of how much stress they can handle due to their heart condition. Here’s a look at the ejection fraction measurement, what it means in terms of your cardiovascular health, and how it relates to Social Security Disability.
Ejection fraction acts as a medical measurement of the percentage of blood being pushed out of your heart on each contraction of the organ. The function of the heart is to contract and relax. Each heartbeat consists of a cycle of these two movements. On contraction, blood is forced through the ventricles. Even a particularly strong contraction, however, won’t push all of the blood out of the ventricle. This is where the ejection fraction measurement comes in. It is a measurement of how much blood is pumped out compared to how much remains in the ventricle.
Typically, ejection fraction is measured in the left ventricle. A healthy fraction ranges from 55% to 70%. There are several reasons why this percentage may decrease. Among the reasons are heart weakness, damage done by a heart attack, valve problems, and uncontrolled high blood pressure. In some cases, a low ejection fraction is used to partially diagnose chronic heart failure, though it is usually combined with subsequent testing to eliminate other possible causes. Tests that measure ejection fraction include an echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, an MRI, and a CT scan.
If your heart is normal, the ejection fraction would measure anywhere between 55-70%. However, depending on your condition, the measurement could go up or down. The different measurements allow doctors to have a good indication of how severe the heart may be failing. Unfortunately, this measurement isn’t a perfect indication that heart failure may or may not happen, which is why different measurements indicate different issues. Here are a couple types of ejection fraction:
There are other percentages that may indicate heart failure, but the two types above are the most common.
Symptoms will depend on the severity of the heart failure, but when the measurement is below 50% some common symptoms may include:
Keep in mind that you may experience these symptoms and have a normal measurement. Doctors may have to conduct further tests to see if your ventricles are working properly.
The main cause of a low measurement is heart failure. However, there are different types of heart failure. The cause may be due to:
There are various treatments that can improve your heart’s measurement. This can include medication, surgery, and even changes to your lifestyle. The type of treatment that will work best for you will depend on the severity of the heart failure or disease. Treating the cause is the first step to improving your number. If your doctor is able to find the cause of the low ejection fraction and treat it properly, you’ll be able to live a fairly normal life. Your doctor, however, may suggest that you continue taking medication to stabilize your condition and make certain changes to your lifestyle. If your symptoms and condition are severe, it may inhibit your ability to perform daily tasks. The most important thing to keep in mind is to follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
Ejection fraction is among the measurements used by the SSA when evaluating disability eligibility. Under the SSA’s listing for heart failure, it notes that an individual should be approved for disability benefits should their number fall under 30%. This should not, however, discourage anyone who is interested in filing a claim who doesn’t meet this qualification. SSDI claims are based upon more than just a single number. While medical tests are part of the process, the greater concern is whether your condition prevents the individual from performing their duties at work. Because of this, the SSA will require that your symptoms substantially limit your function or that you perform poorly on an exercise tolerance test.
A low ejection fraction measurement can put you in line for Social Security disability benefits. While medical tests are only part of the equation, they are an important part. Anyone considering a claim should see a doctor of their own choosing when possible, rather than one appointed by the SSA. Your own doctor will be much more familiar with your overall health, rather than simply reading numbers on a chart. While any ejection fraction numbers below 50% are indicative of some form of cardiovascular decline, they won’t necessarily qualify you for disability benefits on their own. Go into filing your claim with the proper work history form and remember that you have the right to appeal a denied claim. You will have to prove that you not only have the ejection fraction the SSA requires, but symptoms that prevent you from completing your work duties.