What is Cor Pulmonale and Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Cor pulmonale is a heart condition which causes the right-hand side of the heart to fail. It is caused by high blood pressure over a long period which negatively affects the arteries and makes it more difficult to pump blood into the lungs. If you have had the misfortune to have been diagnosed it with cor pulmonale it is possible to qualify for disability benefits with if you are able to provide the proper medical evidence.

How Does Cor Pulmonale Affect Ability to Work?

Like any type of severe heart failure, cor pulmonale can have serious consequences on your ability to undertake every day activities including your ability to work. The sorts of symptoms you can expect if you are diagnosed with cor pulmonale can make it very difficult to undertake any type of job. They are the following:

  • shortness of breath,
  • accumulation of body fluids
  • swelling of the feet and ankles,
  • swollen belly,
  • increased heart rate,
  • persistent coughing,

Unfortunately, symptoms are likely to get worse over a long period meaning the patient requires long term treatment and will find it difficult to work particularly in strenuous occupations.

Qualifying with Cor Pulmonale Symptoms

The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps a Blue Book which lists symptoms that qualify a person to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. If the symptom is not listed, you can qualify with the larger diagnoses. Heart failure which includes a diagnosis for cor pulmonale can be found in Section 4.00 and if the heart condition is chronic it is listed in Section 4.02. In order to qualify for SSDI your heart failure symptoms need to be persistent and any exercise tests you are asked to do are virtually impossible to achieve.

How to Use an RFC

If you do not meet the criteria in the Blue Book you can take part in an RFC. This is when your physician is asked to complete a residual functioning capacity (RFC) form. The information provided on the form will show what effect cor pulmonale has on your life. The sorts of tests that will be conducted include how long you are able to stay in one position. If you suffer from any sort of mental confusion that would make it hard to do a job. if you suffer from so much swelling that your skin weeps so you cannot either walk or stand. When you attend the RFC make sure your physician keeps thorough notes of his/her findings and any documentation that you can draw upon if your request for SSDI is denied.

You may also have medical test results that you can use to support your claim such as the following:

  • stress tests;
  • nuclear heart scans;
  • MRIs;
  • heart catheterization;
  • ECGs, echocardiograms;
  • chest x-rays,  


Have Your Case Reviewed by an Attorney

If you are having any difficulty finding the right evidence of the effects of your diagnosis of cor pulmonale you should ask for some help from a disability lawyer who can help identify cor pulmonale and its symptoms in the Blue Book and package your case and help you to receive the benefits you deserve.

Additional Resources

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