The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two disability benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD), and the Supplement Security Income (SSI). Both programs define a qualifying disability by the same criteria even though SSD and SSI maintain different eligibility requirements and pay different amounts in benefits.

This blog post will explain how heart disease is assessed as a qualifying disability by the Social Security Administration. At Liner Legal Disability Lawyers, we want every client and every prospective client to have easy access to all the information they need to understand their disability claims, the SSA’s review process, and how effective disability advocacy can be the difference between a negative outcome and a benefit approval decision.

Heart Disease as a Disability Under Social Security Rules       

The term disability can be interpreted differently depending on the context of the discussion. Disability is defined differently under Social Security rules than it is under other federal statutes, like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Social Security defines a “disability” as a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last at least 12 months (or result in death), that prevents a person from performing ‘substantial gainful activity.’”

The phrase “substantial gainful activities” is SSA’s description of anything you could do as a job that will earn at least a certain amount of money each month. The SSD and SSI programs have different income eligibility requirements.

Clearly, heart disease qualifies as a “disability” making many people suffering from a heart disease impairment eligible to receive monthly disability benefits.  The key factor determining who will be approved for SSD or SSI benefits is the severity of the illness.

The Social Security’s “Blue Book” List of Heart Disease Criteria

Rather than have an imprecise and inconsistent measure of what heart disease sufferer is entitled to receive monthly disability benefits, the government publishes a manual that disability lawyers refer to as “the Blue Book.” may be required to submit to an exercise tolerance test

Cardiovascular Related Impairments are addressed in Chapter 4 of the SSA’s Blue Book and the category covers a wide range of causes for the heart disease that qualify for disability benefits:

  • Chronic Heart Failure – must have systolic or diastolic heart failure;
  • Ischemic Heart Disease (Coronary Heart Disease) – caused by a narrowed heart arteries;
  • Recurrent Arrhythmias – affecting normal heartbeat rhythm, nonreversible,  causing loss or near loss of consciousness;
  • Symptomatic Congenital Heart Disease – impairments to the structure of the heart or the function of the heart before birth (including Cyanotic Congenital Heart Disease and Acyanotic Congenital Heart Disease);
  • Heart Transplant – automatically considered disabled for at least one year after the transplant is complete;
  • Aneurysm of Aorta or Major Branches – requires medical imaging to confirm the aneurysm;
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency – improper functioning of the veins in the legs, must have brawny edema (requires specific percentage of leg involvement or nonhealing wounds);
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease – narrowed blood vessels reducing blood flow to the limbs, requires documented blood pressure analysis.

Required Degree of Severity for Disability Benefits

Each of these types of cardiovascular conditions will qualify for monthly SSD or SSI disability payment if the supportive medical documents filed with the disability claim application demonstrate that the condition is severe enough to prevent you from earning above the program’s income limit.

The experienced disability lawyers at Liner Legal Disability Law know exactly what medical details your condition must meet in order to permit you to receive disability benefits. Our office’s staff is highly skilled in collecting all the medical records generated by your treating physicians, cardiologists, lab and imaging test results, and any opinions produced by consulting specialists.

Our experience dealing with complex medical terminology and physiological processes means that we can discuss your case in specific detail with any one of your medical team who may be able to further clarify your condition in a way that will increase your chances of being approved for benefits.

Occasionally, great doctors are less talented at reporting their findings. Clear, concise, definitive medical reports and opinions are extremely valuable when we prepare, present, and advocate the merits of your disability claim.

Measuring Severity of Your Heart Disease

Many of the conditions included in the cardiovascular category of qualifying disabilities require certain test results to be submitted documenting your condition meets a designated percentage of occlusion, or that your condition-related wounds remained unhealed for a particular number of weeks. Some disability claimants will not meet the precise mathematical score required for one impairment.

Combinations of Impairments Can Qualify Close Cases

If your condition is documented but a single impairment is not itself severe enough to qualify you for disability benefits, the fact that any other physical or mental impairment coexists that contributes to your inability to engage in gainful employment commonly results in benefits being granted.

Skilled disability lawyers can identify these co-occurring impairments in your medical records and ensure that they are included as additional bases for your disability claim.