April 17, 2015
Experienced Social Security disability attorney Tracey Pate discusses disability benefits for various types of serious heart disease.
Different types of heart disease and cardiovascular problems may qualify for disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA) if they cause severe limitations in what patients can do. Here are the most common heart conditions for which individuals apply for Social Security disability benefits or insurance (SSD/SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries become clogged and narrowed. This results in restricted blood flow to the heart, called atherosclerosis. Without adequate blood flow, the heart becomes starved of oxygen, and that deprivation causes a cramping of the heart muscle, known as ischemia. Coronary artery disease is diagnosed by electrocardiogram (EKG), exercise stress tests and cardiac catheterization.
If you have coronary artery disease, you’ll need to demonstrate to the SSA that you suffer from angina and that you have had abnormal exercise stress tests or imaging results, or that you’ve had several angioplasty/bypass surgeries.
Arteriosclerosis, also commonly called “hardening of the arteries,” is a type of heart disease that occurs when fatty or calcium deposits in the artery walls cause them to thicken. In many cases this condition is an inevitable result of aging, and the most well-known result is a heart attack. In most heart attacks, both atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are present. Atherosclerosis causes plaque build-up in the arteries while arteriosclerosis stiffens the arties so that they cannot expand to compensate for the blockage caused by plaque formation.
The SSA evaluates individual cases of arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis to determine the qualification for benefits under its ischemic heart disease listing.
An aneurysm is a bulge in a part of the artery that stems from weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. If an aneurysm ruptures, it may cause fatal bleeding. Aneurysms may occur in the aorta, brain or other arteries.
To receive disability benefits due to an aneurysm, you’ll have to provide evidence that exertion presents an unacceptable risk because imaging tests show an aneurysm that is separating from the artery wall, meaning that it is at risk of rupturing.
Congestive Heart Failure
In patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), blood returning to the heart through veins backs up, causing congestion in the tissue. This occurs because the heart cannot physically pump enough blood to the other organs. Swelling, or edema, results as this heart condition affects the kidneys’ ability to dispose of sodium and water. Sometimes fluid may even collect in the lungs and interfere with breathing. People ages 40 and older have a 1 in 5 chance of developing CHF in their lifetimes.
To receive disability benefits for CHF, you must show the SSA that you have a poor ejection fraction or abnormal imaging results. Additionally, you may show poor exercise stress test results or several episodes of heart failure that have required hospitalization within the past year.
Although these are the most common forms of heart disease impacting benefit applications, there are many others. For more information, contact experienced Social Security disability attorney Tracey Pate at Disability Associates today.