Ejection fraction is a term that describes the ability of the heart to pump out blood, which is compromised in a person with congestive heart failure. Essentially, ejection fraction is a measurement of the relative strength or weakness of a person's heart. The lower the ejection fraction, the more difficulty the heart has in pumping blood from the left ventricle. A normal ejection fraction may be in the range of 50-75%. Anything below 50% is generally indicative of chronic, or congestive, heart failure.
Methods of determining an individual's ejection fraction might include a MUGA scan, MRI, echocardiograph, or CT scan. Generally, lower ejection fractions indicate more severe disease processes that cause significant restrictions to daily activities, or even death. It has been estimated that at least 10% of heart failure patients die each year in spite of medications and treatment.
If an individual has a left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less, he or she might benefit from a procedure called cardiac resynchronization therapy. This procedure involves implanting a bi-ventricular pacemaker or a caridoverter-difibrillator. These procedures reduce mortality by 36% and 23% respectively.
Is an individual's ejection fraction be a factor in a Social Security disability claim? Yes, it certainly can. In fact, the SSA's "listing" for chronic heart failure provides that a patient whose ejection fraction is less than 30% should be approved for disability benefits. Of course, when it comes to filing for Social Security disability benefits or SSI, a claimant's objective medical tests are not the only issue. What matters above all is that a claimant's condition functionally restricts them and prevents them from engaging in work. For that reason, the SSA also requires that your symptoms seriously limit your activities, that you have a poor exercise tolerance test, or that you've been hospitalized repeatedly for heart failure. For the details, see our article on disability for congestive heart failure.