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  • Christopher Le

Does a Heart Attack qualify me for Social Security Disability?

Although having a heart attack is a serious traumatic experience, it alone isn’t enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Centers for Disease control (CDC) reports that heart attacks affect about 790,000 people each year. More than 1/3 have had a previous heart attack. Each additional heart attack just adds to the damage caused to the heart and increases the likelihood of severe heart problems, including heart failure.

Even the slightest heart attack can take you out of work for a lengthy period of time. The medical expenses associated with a less severe heart attack could average $760,000 in the first year and $38,000 annually afterward.

How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits Using the Blue Book Listing

Although a heart attack can impact your life physically, emotionally, and financially, it doesn’t automatically mean you qualify for SSDI benefits based on this condition alone. To be approved for disability benefits, you must meet the social security administrations criteria. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses an impairment listing book, also known as the blue book, that lists qualifying physical and mental impairments for SSDI and Social Security Income (SSI) benefits.

While a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is not listed as one of the blue book’s typical approved disabling conditions, you may however qualify under another listed disease or disorder. For example, the most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease. When the body’s arteries are blocked or clogged, there isn’t enough oxygen and blood flow which can cause serious heart damage and heart attack. The good news is that coronary artery disease could be approved for SSDI under the blue book listing for ischemic heart disease. If you file a claim for this condition, your medical records must show that you have blockage or narrowing in your arteries that results in fatigue or that you’ve had at least 3 episodes in a 12 month period that required surgery.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits with an RFC Analysis

Not all heart problems meet a blue book listing but there is still hope. You may still qualify for disability benefits as long as are out of work for at least 12 months and meet additional criteria. You will need to demonstrate through medical records and other documentation that you should qualify to receive benefits. This process is called “residual functional capacity” or RFC and could be an alternative route for benefits approval. Most cases are approved at this stage.

If you decide to apply for SSDI benefits under this RFC analysis, SSA will send you some specific forms to fill out. You will need to list your everyday activities and limitations, and it’s important that your physician corroborates your claims. This means that your limitations have to mirror what the doctors are notating in your medical records. Your doctor will need to provide as much detail as possible about your physical and mental limitations due to your heart condition. If the RFC analysis shows that your health prevents you from working, you may be approved for disability benefits.

Applying for SSDI After a Heart Attack

SSA denies over 80 percent of claims submitted by individuals who attempt to handle their own applications. The SSDI application process is complex and confusing, which is just one of the reasons why we recommend that you enlist the help of an experienced attorney to help you file your claim. If you’ve experienced a heart attack that limits your ability to work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. Of course it’s imperative to have strong medical evidence to back up your claim. If all lines up, you could be approved for disability benefits.

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