Does a Heart Attack Increase My Chances for Social Security Disability Benefits?
While having a heart attack is a serious health event that impacts you and your family, 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 Americans each year. Of those, more than a third have had a previous heart attack. Each successive heart attack compounds the damage caused to the heart and increases the likelihood of severe heart complications, including heart failure.
Even the mildest heart attack can take you out of work for several weeks to a few months. If you work for an employer with an excellent benefits package, you may be able to collect sick time or short-term disability payments. CBS News reports that 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 Through a Blue Book Listing
While it’s true that a heart attack can impact your life physically, emotionally, and financially, it’s not a simple matter to qualify for SSDI benefits based on this condition alone. To be approved for benefits, you must meet the agency’s criteria. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses an impairment listing manual, also called the blue book, that lists qualifying physical and mental impairments for SSDI and Social Security Income (SSI) benefits.
While heart attack, or myocardial infarction, isn’t listed as one of the blue book’s standard approved disabilities, you might still qualify under another listed disease or disorder. This is because many of the common causes of heart attacks are listed as approved. For example, John’s Hopkins School of Medicine reports that 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 attacks.
The good news is that coronary artery disease could be approved for SSDI under the blue book list for ischemic heart disease. If you make a claim for this, your medical records must show that you have blockage or narrowing in your arteries that results in fatigue from exertion or that you’ve had at least three episodes in a 12-month period that required surgical intervention.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Through an RFC Analysis
Assuming you’ve had a heart attack and you don’t qualify for SSDI based on the blue book, all hope is not lost. You may still qualify for benefits as long as you will be out of work for at least 12 months and meet some other criteria. You will need to demonstrate through medical records and other documents that you should be eligible to receive benefits. This process is referred to as “residual functional capacity” or RFC and could be an alternative route for benefits approval.
If you decide to apply for SSDI benefits on this basis, the SSA will send you some specific forms to complete. You will not only need to list your everyday activities and limitations, but your physician will also need to corroborate your claims. Your medical provider will need to provide as much detail as possible about your physical and mental limitations due to your heart condition. If this analysis shows that your health prevents you from performing the work for which you are qualified, you may be approved for benefits.
Applying for SSDI Benefits After a Heart Attack
Even when you are completely qualified for SSDI benefits, the agency denies over 90 percent of claims submitted by people 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 a qualified Social Security Disability attorney that can help you navigate the endless stream of red tape.
If you’ve had a heart attack that limits your ability to work for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits provided you have the right evidence to prove your case. Contact The Dansby Law Firm today at (860) 893-0558 or online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.