Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (known as “CPET”) can be useful for substantiating long term disability insurance claims. The CPET is particularly recommended for conditions that cause fatigue as a major symptom.
Fatigue is commonly self-reported by claimants rather than objectively tested by their doctors. Consequently, your insurance company may consider your reported fatigue as “subjective”. Disability claims with subjective symptoms are more highly scrutinized and at higher risk of denial.
The CPET can provide evidence of your exertional limitations. These objective results can help prove your disability to your insurance company.
Read below to learn more about the CPET and how it may help your disability claim.
What is CPET?
CPET stands for cardiopulmonary exercise testing. The CPET is a highly sensitive and non-invasive stress test used to measure the performance of the heart, lungs, and muscles at rest and during exercise.
The CPET measures your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Through breathing measurements, the CPET analyzes the volume of oxygen absorbed, volume of carbon dioxide exhaled, and total volume of air breathed out. The CPET uses these measurements to analyze your body’s tolerance for and response to exercise. The test provides objective proof of physical exertional intolerance, poor endurance, and your functional capacity.
What disabilities does the CPET help prove?
Many disabling conditions may have their symptoms substantiated through the CPET. Some of these conditions include:
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
- Heart failure/other cardiac conditions
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)/other lung conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The CPET is most typically helpful if fatigue is a major symptom of your condition. Fatigue can be difficult to prove to your insurance company. Your regular treatment with your healthcare providers may note when you report fatigue as a symptom, but your records may lack any impartial, factual proof through test results.
Generally speaking, objective medical evidence will help get your disability claim approved more than anything else. The results of the CPET can show objective data demonstrating your fatigue. This makes it harder for your insurance company to deny your claim.
What does the CPET involve?
The test requires you to perform mild exercise on a stationary bike while breathing through a mouthpiece. Each breath will be measured. Your heart rate and blood pressure will also be monitored.
Don’t worry if you do not feel you are “fit” enough for the CPET. The CPET is not a maximal tolerance test. You will not be asked to stress yourself to the limit. The risks involved are about the same as performing mild-to-moderate exercise.
However, if at any point you feel unable to continue, inform the evaluator, and await further instructions. You should not complete any tests that will jeopardize your health and/or safety. Be especially mindful to tell the evaluator if you become dizzy. They will also monitor your readings to make sure the testing is safe.
Before the testing, the evaluator will measure your height, weight, and explain the procedure. They will also likely ask questions to get a better sense of your symptoms and complaints. You should answer the evaluator’s questions as best as you can. The more information that the evaluator has, the more accurate the report will be.
How long will the CPET take?
The testing should take approximately one hour total. However, you will only be required to exercise for about 10 minutes.
How do I prepare for the CPET?
When our clients undergo the CPET, we recommend they dress for comfort. Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing that will not restrict your breathing. Be sure to bring any assistive devices that you may need (i.e., brace, cane, inhaler, etc.).
It is also recommended that you:
- Do not eat a heavy meal for 2 hours before the test.
- Do not drink alcohol for 4 hours before the test.
- Do not engage in vigorous exercise for 30 minutes before the test.
- Do not smoke for at least 1 hour prior to the test.
- Continue to take all prescribed medicine as normal, unless instructed otherwise.
What will the CPET results include?
After testing, your evaluator will create a report detailing the CPET’s findings.
The report will include information such as:
- Your medical history
- Your work background and activities prior to disability
- Summary of the testing performed
- Results from the testing
- Any indications of functional capacity impairment in your results
- A concluding assessment of your exertional limitations and their impact on your ability to work
Your evaluator can use the data in your findings to determine your capacity to carry out normal daily activities. The report should include the evaluator’s assessment of your stamina, energy demands, and ability to perform physical tasks. From there, your evaluator can conclude whether you are disabled from working.
How can an attorney help with my disability claim and the CPET?
At Riemer Hess, we regularly help our clients arrange to undergo CPETs. We refer our clients to highly respected professionals who we know and trust.
Additionally, we provide the CPET evaluator with necessary information on your background. This includes information on your occupation, general work background, diagnosis, treatment, and date of disability. We also make sure the evaluator has had the opportunity to review your medical records before testing so they are familiar with your condition.
Once the testing is done, we review the evaluator’s report to make sure all information regarding your work history and medical background is accurate before it is submitted to your insurance company.
If you are filing for long term disability benefits or appealing a prior denial, we recommend consulting with a disability attorney. An experienced long term disability attorney can help you navigate the process to get your benefits approved. A long term disability attorney will know how best to substantiate your claim with evidence and testing results. Our disability insurance attorneys are familiar with all the testing that should be included for fatigue-based disability claims or appeals and will refer you for any testing you need.
Our New York long term disability lawyers can help. Call Riemer Hess LLC at (212) 297-0700 or click the button below for a consultation on your disability case.