Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, it is largely preventable (see links below for heart health tips). If you suffer from a heart condition, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Certain impairments are considered severe enough by themselves to warrant a finding of disability based solely on your condition. These are Social Security’s “Adult Listings” for disability. The most common Listings for heart conditions are:
- Aneurysm of the Aorta or Major Branches. Regardless of the cause, you will be considered disabled if appropriate medical imaging confirms an aneurysm of the aorta or any major branch.
- Chronic heart failure. To qualify for disability benefits, your condition must have systolic or diastolic heart failure. Additionally, your heart conditions must fall within given parameters while it is stable. Additionally, you must meet one of the following conditions: Poor performance on an exercise tolerance test, two or more occurrences of heart failure within one year (must have fluid retention and require hospitalization), or symptoms which would limit your ability to work and which would suggest that an exercise test would present a danger to you.
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency. You will be considered disabled if you have an obstruction and meet one or more of the following: brawny edema which involves 2/3 or more of your leg from the knee to the ankle or 1/3 from your ankle to your hip OR persistent or recurrent ulcerations which fail to heal after being treated for three months.
- Heart Transplant. You will automatically be considered disabled for at least one year after a heart transplant.
- Ischemic Heart Disease. To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet one or more of the following: Coronary artery disease (this requires an angiography, medical imaging, and either an exercise test or medical documentation showing why an exercise test would be too dangerous to your health), three distinct ischemic episodes, with each of them needing revasucularization (or in which revascularization is not possible), or an exercise test which shows that you fall within the SSA’s guidelines for complete disability.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Must be shown by medical imaging and fall within the SSA’s guidelines for your blood pressure.
- Recurrent Arrhythmia. To qualify for disability benefits based on recurring arrhythmias, the medical evidence must show that the condition is not reversible and that it results in near syncope or syncope.
- Symptomatic Congenital Heart Disease. For symptomatic congenital heart disease, the SSA considers evidence from medical imaging or a heart catheter. They will look to see whether your hematocrit levels and O2 saturation meet with their criteria. You may also qualify if you have right to left shunting or if your systolic pressure is significantly elevated (70% of systemic or higher)
Even if you heart condition does not meet one of the Listings above, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your impairments have – or are expected to – put you out of work for one year or longer. The Social Security Administration will consider whether your conditions prevent you from returning to your past work or any other work available in the regional or national economy.
Adult Listings for cardiovascular impairments: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/4.00-Cardiovascular-Adult.htm
Tips for heart health: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/heart-healthy/12-tips-for-better-heart-health ; https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-heart-tips ; https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/keep-your-heart-healthy ; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702 ; https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/10-small-steps-for-better-heart-health
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®