The Social Security Administration (SSA) does allow disability benefits for coronary heart disease, as well as for several types of common heart problems and diseases. Keep in mind that the focus of SSA disability is a work-based focus, meaning they look at whether your ability to work is impacted by your heart disease.
With coronary heart disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart has reduced capacity; the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen to work effectively, so pumping is compromised.
SSA does need medical evidence of your CAD. Common tests include EKGs, cardiac imaging tests and exercise stress tests. All of these tests measure your heart’s condition to pump. The SSA also wants to see physician notes about any restrictions your doctor has you on, such as limiting exertion, exercise or heavy lifting. These test results are very important to the SSA in making their determination, so include everything possible for as long of a history as you possibly can. For example, evidence of an EKG will show lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, and results of a treadmill exercise tolerance test (ETT) (stress test) will show how much exertion you can do before having chest pain or shortness of breath. The SSA has very specific guidelines for disability, including the number of ischemic attacks you’ve had in the last year, values for the ejection fraction in your heart, and a specific level of result for the stress test.
All of this evidence will be factored in to determine your work ability. Basically, SSA will determine if there are any jobs you can do. They’ll evaluate your current work, your age and your education into this equation.
The SSA maintains a listing of disabilities called the Blue Book, and there are several heart conditions that qualify:
· Coronary heart disease (ischemia) caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle
· Chronic congestive heart failure involving compromised pumping action
· Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm)
· Aneurysms in the aorta
· Venous insufficiency in which the leg veins cannot pump enough blood back up to the heart
· Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) caused by obstruction of large arteries in the legs
Coronary heart disease is usually evaluated in its own category, but CAD can lead to other issues like congestive heart failure, so your case might be evaluated under that category. However, most people are evaluated under the ischemic heart disease category, particularly if you’ve had a heart attack. Note that SSA no longer has a disability category for high blood pressure (hypertension). Instead, if you have hypertension, SSA will evaluate you under the category that caused the high blood pressure.
CAD makes it difficult for many adults to work. If you don’t automatically qualify for disability benefits for coronary heart disease under the SSA Blue Book listing, you could qualify under a residual functional capacity (RFC) category. The SSA will rate you on the type of work they think you can do, considering all your medical evidence. These categories range from sedentary to heavy work. If your doctor has imposed strict limitations on your exertion, you might only qualify for sedentary work. If there are no jobs in your company that you can do, then you may qualify for disability benefits this way. People over age 55 with little education have the best chances at qualifying for the medical vocational allowance under the RFC ruling.
You can file for disability online at ssa.gov, or you can go to your nearest SSA center. Filing can be complicated and many people are initially denied for lack of compelling medical evidence. That’s why many people choose to hire a law firm like ours. We can help you find the right category for filing, and make sure the SSA has all the evidence they need to make their determination regarding your disability benefits for coronary heart disease.