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How to Qualify with Chronic Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is more commonly known as just high blood pressure. When the condition is uncontrolled through available treatments, it’s considered chronic, and chronic pulmonary hypertension, or CPH, causes a range of symptoms and complications that can prevent you from working.

These may include dizziness, fatigue, fluid retention, shortness of breath, and even loss of consciousness. Getting by without income from employment can quickly lead to a financial crisis, but disability benefits can help alleviate at least some of your financial concerns.

Medically Qualifying for Disability with CPH

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews disability applications, they compare an applicant’s medical records to listings in the Blue Book. Meeting a listing in this manual means you are medically qualified to receive benefits, because you’re severely disabled.

CPH appears in listing 3.09 and requires your medical records include a report of pulmonary artery pressure, of 40 mm Hg or greater, measured during a cardiac catheterization procedure. This pressure reading must additionally have been recorded at a time when you were considered medically stable.

According to the SSA’s definition, “medically stable” means this pressure reading cannot have been recorded anywhere near a time when another medical condition could have forced an abnormally high result. Periods of medical instability under this definition include any reading taken within:

  • a month of treatment for a pneumonia or another lower respiratory infection
  • two weeks of any change in prescribed medications that may affect respiratory or blood pressure readings
  • a month of finishing treatment for a flare up with a chronic respiratory condition, like COPD or asthma, for example
  • a month of being released from the hospital after a heart attack, stent placement, or other cardiac condition

These are just the examples of medical instability the SSA lists in the Blue Book under 3.00E2a, but they are by no means the only times that pulmonary artery pressure results may be skewed by another medical condition. A thyroid or adrenal gland imbalance or a period of exacerbated clinical anxiety symptoms, for example, can also lead to unusually high blood pressure results.

Any time another serious medical condition drives your average pulmonary artery pressure up is a time that the SSA would consider you to be medically unstable. They may therefore disallow blood pressure readings taken during these times. You should work closely with your doctor to ensure you have appropriate records to demonstrate the severity of your CPH when you are otherwise medically stable.

Submitting an Application and Getting Help with Your Disability Claim

Disability benefits come in two forms: SSDI and SSI. For SSDI, you can apply online or at the local office. For SSI however, you’ll need to apply by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting the local SSA branch, because an interview is the standard claims process.

Whether you apply locally or online, you may need assistance with your claim. A disability advocate or attorney can help you pull your application and medical documentation together, answer any questions you have along the way, and represent you in all communications with the SSA, even if you must eventually file an appeal after being denied Social Security.