Summary: 65 year old female with congestive heart failure
Client profile: my client has a high school education and some college. She previously worked for approximately 16 years as a customer service representative. She was medically retired because of chronic shortness of breath and fatigue.
Claim background: my client filed for SSDI benefits in early 2014 alleging an onset date in the fall of 2013 when she last worked. A video hearing was scheduled in the Atlanta area in April, 2017.
Factors in our favor:
- my client was over 60 at onset
- my client has a long, consistent work history
- the medical record in this case clearly documents congestive heart failure that is not quite serious enough for a heart transplant but not especially responsive to medications and even a pacemaker
- my client has been prescribed diuretics which result in frequent urination (i.e., unscheduled work breaks at a job)
- in addition to congestive heart failure my client is a non-insulin dependent diabetic, has sleep apnea and is obese
Factors not in our favor:
- my client’s heart function has improved slightly over the past few years
- my client is not yet a candidate for a heart transplant
My strategy: I felt that this was a strong case, with a well documented medical issue. I wrote a pre-hearing brief which resulted in an on-the-record decision. The file indicated that medications were not providing significant relief. My client underwent surgery to have a pacemaker installed – the pacemaker did give her added energy but it also resulted in very uncomfortable side effects – she felt that her stomach was “jumping” when the pacemaker was active. Her doctors turned the pacemaker off, but that resulted in extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. They then turned it back on but at a lower power, providing less benefit.
Hearing Report: there was no hearing as the judge approved this case after receipt of my pre-hearing brief.
Conclusions: this is a good example of a well documented medical file documenting a significant medical problem that is not easily treatable. Had we gone to hearing, my client would have testified that even minimally exertional activities like speaking on the phone or sitting up caused her to become short of breath.