Surgeon Performing a Heart Transplant SurgeryYour heart transplant is an essential step on your road to recovery. Your doctors plan for your surgery to be successful. Even if it successful, however, the time immediately following surgery will be difficult, and you will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits for at least one year.

Health Risks the First Year After a Heart Transplant

Soon after surgery, you could be at risk of:

  • New Heart Failure. Sometimes, the donor heart does not work properly in someone else’s body. This happens for two reasons: Either the primary graft does not function correctly and fails to pump the blood to the rest of the body, or the arteries harden, stopping circulation. Your doctor will keep a close watch immediately after your surgery to make sure neither of these occurs.
  • Body Rejecting the Heart. It’s hard to predict how your body will react to the introduction of a foreign body—including a donated organ. There is usually some sort of minor rejection of the heart in the beginning, but most times, medicine will ease the body’s acceptance of the transplant. Sometimes, though, the heart is not the right match. If that is the case, the organ must be removed immediately.
  • Medication Complications. The medication you receive to help your new heart adapt to your body (and vice versa) has side effects. Sometimes, these side effects cause other complications, such as kidney damage, infection, or cancer. Keep a close watch on how your body reacts and be open and honest with your doctor about any abnormalities you feel.

Getting Social Security Disability After a Heart Transplant

Often, Social Security disability applicants must check a lot of boxes before they know whether or not they are eligible for benefits. Even if their illness or injury is included in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, there are often many conditions that must be satisfied before a disability determination can be made.

Heart transplants are different from other types of disabilities, however.

Section 4.09 of the Listing of Impairments instructs that someone with a heart transplant is considered to have a disability for one year following surgery. For that first year after surgery, there are no qualifications, and you do not need to suffer from any complications. Instead, if you’ve had a heart transplant, then you should be eligible for benefits.

However, you may not engage in substantial gainful activity. In 2020, substantial gainful activity is defined as earning $1,260 or more a month for Social Security disability applicants who are not blind. The specific amount of substantial gainful activity is subject to the cost of living adjustments each year.

Additionally, if your body rejects your heart transplant, then your Social Security disability determination may be expedited pursuant to the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance program. The Compassionate Allowances program expedites your disability determination so that you can receive benefits faster.

After the first year post-heart transplant, your continued disability status depends on actual impairment.

Get Help Before Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Even though the Listing of Impairments is clear, you must still apply for Social Security disability benefits. The application must be completed fully and honestly. An application error could result in a denial of benefits, but if you are successful, then you may receive monthly benefits.

The value of your monthly benefits is dependent on your average index monthly earnings (AIME). Benefits max out at a certain level that is subject to annual cost of living adjustments.

Please contact our experienced Boston area Social Security disability lawyers today to get the benefits that you’ve earned and that you deserve after heart transplant surgery. We will take the stress of applying for disability benefits off of your shoulders so that you can concentrate on your recovery. Please call us directly or fill out our online contact form at any time to get started pursuing Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer