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Heart failure occurs when your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. This often occurs after narrowed arteries or high blood pressure leave your heart too weak or stiff to work effectively.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a person must be found unable to work due to a disability for a period of at least 12 months. Consequently, chronic heart failure is much more likely to lead to a long-term disability than acute heart failure.

Heart failure can occur on the left, right or both sides of the heart. Heart failure occurs when the heart either cannot pump blood out well (systolic) or cannot easily fill with blood (diastolic).


Chronic heart failure may present in several ways. Shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, weakness, swelling in legs and feet, rapid or irregular heartbeat, swelling of the abdomen, lack of appetite and nausea, difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness, persistent cough or wheezing, and sudden eight gain.


There are numerous causes of heart failure. Coronary artery disease (build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries) can lead to a heart attack and heart failure. High blood pressure can cause your heart to have to work harder and may become too stiff or too weak to work properly. Heart defects from birth may eventually cause the heart to fail. Damage to the heart may also be a cause and can come from substance abuse, infections, and some diseases.


Because chronic heart failure is a listed impairment under Social Security regulations, you may be more likely to receive benefits than with other conditions. Be sure to specify to Social Security details about your diagnosis, symptoms you suffer from, and which doctor diagnosed you and treats you for your heart failure. Social Security will compare your medical records with the regulations to see if you meet special requirements for disability. Some of the specific things Social Security will review are your ejection fraction, the number and frequency of acute congestive heart failures you have experienced, and your ability (or inability) to perform an exercise stress test and why. Both test results and observations from your doctor will be important.

If you do not meet the specific chronic heart failure requirements, you may still be found disabled if your condition prevents you from maintaining full-time employment. If your restrictions are supported by medical records, you may be able to qualify for Social Security under Steps 4 & 5 of the sequential evaluation process.


With Social Security’s specific rules, you may find you do not quite meet the qualifications in Social Security’s evaluation. Or you may not be sure how to get the right information from your doctor. Our Social Security disability team at Craig Swapp and Associates is well-versed in how to set up the best case possible for your disability. We analyze each case individually and implement a plan of attack to get your claim awarded. And if we don’t win your case, you pay us absolutely nothing.This site contains information only. It is not medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment.