According to the Mayo Clinic, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. In a small number of people with this condition, the thickened heart muscle can cause signs and symptoms, such as shortness of breath and problems in the heart's electrical system resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, which can require a pacemaker.
The Mayo Clinic also points out that many people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can lead normal lives with no significant problems. However, many others are not so fortunate, such as one of my Social Security Disability (“SSD”) clients.
My client’s hypertrophic cardiomyopathy required implantation of a pacemaker. Even though the claimant’s cardiologist had advised Social Security that the claimant’s condition precluded even sedentary work, his claim was denied. The claimant received a fully favorable decision today because I was able to persuade the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to give great weight to the cardiologist’s opinion.
The ALJ had been unaware of the claimant’s family history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I had the claimant explain that he only learned that he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after being tested because his 13 year old daughter died from it suddenly. I advised the ALJ that the claimant’s mother, two uncles, and grandfather also died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I also had the claimant testify that his father had quadruple bypass surgery. Based on that family history, the ALJ not only found the cardiologist’s opinion reasonable, but also found that the emotional limitations from the claimant’s psychologist sound.