Heart Attack and Disability Benefits
Can I get SSDI or SSI for a heart attack?
It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million people in the United States have a heart attacks and severe chest pain each year. Heart attacks are the leading killers for both men and women and are generally due to a lack of blood flow to the heart. Coronary heart disease is the most common reason for the blood blockage and results when plaque accumulates in the coronary arteries. Other severe heart conditions can include heart failure and severe arrhythmias.
How do you know if you are having a heart attack?
There are a variety of common heart attack symptoms, although scientific studies indicate that the symptoms can vary significantly in women versus men. For instance many women who have a heart attack never report severe chest pain.
Symptoms can include:
- Chest pain which can be strong or mild
- Pain in the arms, neck, stomach or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and dizziness
- Lack of energy or fatigue
Proving you are disabled due to a heart condition
The Social Security Administration will make their disability determination based on sufficiently detailed reports of history, physical examinations, laboratory studies, and any prescribed treatment and response to allow us to assess the severity and duration of your cardiovascular impairment including a longitudinal clinical record covering a period of not less than 3 months of observations and treatment is usually necessary, unless we can make a determination or decision based on the current evidence.
For heart attacks and chest pain the SSA would need to evaluate your cardiac tests including stress tests, angiograms and EKG reports. The goal of each report is to determine if your chest pain is actually cardiac in origin. You also may be able to prove your condition through more invasive medical procedures such as a cardiac catheterization or angiogram.
The Social Security Administration would also expect that you would be under the constant care of a cardiologist who will have diagnosed your condition, evaluated your genetic predisposition to heart attacks and fully documented your description of the heart attack episode and subsequent pain.
Meeting a Listing for Heart Conditions
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of conditions they consider disabling. This listing does contain a section for the cardiovascular system (4.00 Cardiovascular System) and conditions on this list include chronic heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and cardiomyopathy.
Heart attacks are most frequently evaluated under section 4.04 Ischemic heart disease. The SSA will evaluate the description of the claimants pain and determine if the discomfort of myocardial ischemic origin (angina pectoris) is precipitated by effort or emotion and promptly relieved by rest, sublingual nitroglycerin (that is, nitroglycerin tablets that are placed under the tongue), or other rapidly acting nitrates. Typically, the discomfort is located in the chest (usually substernal) and described as pressing, crushing, squeezing, burning, aching, or oppressive. Sharp, sticking, or cramping discomfort is less common. Discomfort occurring with activity or emotion should be described specifically as to timing and usual inciting factors (type and intensity), character, location, radiation, duration, and response to nitrate treatment or rest.
What if your condition does not meet a listing? Claimants who do not meet the listing under 4.04 Ischemic heart disease will have to prove that their condition is so severe they cannot perform substantial gainful activity which means they are unable to perform their current job, past relevant work or retrain for new employment. The SSA will review their age, education, work experience, and health condition to determine if the claimant could find new employment. This process is called a medical vocational allowance.
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