A heart attack is a traumatic event that can be life-changing. While some heart attacks are severe and considered major health events, this alone may not be enough to qualify you for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI). Since a heart attack can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining, it is vital to understand your rights with reference to these valuable benefits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 735,000 Americans experience heart attacks each year. Among those, over 210,000 have suffered at least one previous heart attack. Each subsequent heart attack produces compounding damage, which increases the likelihood of additional complications, including heart failure.
Eligibility Requirements for Disability Benefits
SSDI has some strict eligibility rules, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not known for being flexible. First, you must have sufficient work credits to be eligible for these benefits. This means that you have worked a certain number of years, paying into the SSDI system.
Any physical or mental condition must also be severe enough that it will prevent you from engaging in gainful employment for a period of at least 12 months. These factors must be present before the SSA will even consider whether your condition meets one of its strict guidelines.
Does a Heart Attack Increase My Chances of SSDI Approval?
While a heart attack might not ensure that you get approved for SSDI, it could increase your chances for approval. There are several coronary conditions that qualify for SSDI benefits and having a heart attack may allow you to meet some requirements that you failed to satisfy in the past.
For example, one of the leading precursors to a heart attack is a condition called coronary artery disease. To qualify for benefits with coronary artery disease, you must show evidence of having severe symptoms of ischemic heart disease even after following prescribed treatment. Alternatively, you can show one of the following:
- Major intolerance to exercise, including extreme fatigue following minimal exertion;
- A 50 to 70 percent narrowing of a major coronary vessel that cannot be surgically bypassed;
- Within a 12-month period, having three separate incidents of blockages or vascular narrowing that require surgical intervention, catheterization, or angioplasty.
Even if you didn’t meet some of these requirements before having a heart attack, there is a good chance that you could meet them afterward and qualify for SSDI.
Other Ways to Qualify for SSDI Benefits After a Heart Attack
We already established that myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, is not in itself enough to qualify for SSDI, but there are other cardiovascular disabilities that you might qualify for based on severity. In other words, if your worsened symptoms now match another disability in terms of severity, complications, symptoms, and limitations, you could qualify and be approved for SSDI benefits.
While not exhaustive, some of the more common heart problems that could qualify a sufferer for SSDI include:
- Chronic Heart Failure, also known as congestive heart failure
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency
- Recurrent Arrhythmias
- Hypertensive Heart Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
There are particular criteria attached to each condition, so it is essential that you reference the SSA’s Blue Book listings regarding these conditions when applying for benefits.
Get Help with Your Claim from a Qualified Disability Benefits Attorney
Heart attacks can be an extreme financial burden on a family, not to mention the physical and mental limitations that follow one of these events. CBS News reported several years ago that the average cost of a mild heart attack was up to $92,000. If you have medical insurance, you may be partially covered, but this won’t take care of your daily living expenses.
It is not uncommon for SSDI claims to be denied for any number of reasons. If you have a heart condition and believe that you are eligible for these benefits, you should not give up hope if your claim was denied initially. With some persistence and the help of a qualified disability benefits attorney, you have a much greater chance of becoming approved upon appeal.
At Walton Law, LLC, attorney Randy Walton fights for the rights of clients throughout Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Contact our office today at 251-455-5819 for a free consultation to discuss your situation. We never collect upfront attorney fees for SSDI cases, you only pay us if we win your case.