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Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
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Social Security Disability for Heart Disease: SSI and SSDI Claims

Because heart disease affects so many people in their everyday activities, our blog posts about heart disease and disability are among the "most read" on our web site. Here is a repost from February 2013. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. What many people don’t realize is that heart disease also is a leading cause of disability. Heart disease can severely limit a person’s ability to enjoy hobbies, care for oneself, and work. For this reason, heart disease is one of the top reasons why people apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI).

The four most common heart conditions for which people apply for SSDI:

1. Arteriosclerosis: Also known as "hardening of the arteries,” this refers to a group of conditions that occur when fats, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of the arteries. This build-up causes the arteries to narrow. Most people do not realize they have arteriosclerosis until the arteries become so narrow that there is inadequate blood supply to the heart or the brain. Arteriosclerosis can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and is the underlying cause of many heart conditions. The Social Security Administration looks at all of an applicant’s medical conditions when determining disability status.

2. Coronary Artery Disease: Coronary artery disease occurs when arteriosclerosis restricts blood to the heart. This deprives the heart of oxygen and causes the heart to slow down or even stop. The most common symptom of coronary artery disease is chest pain or angina. Other symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

To qualify for SSDI for coronary artery disease, you must be unable to work and meet one of the following requirements:

  • You must have had an abnormal exercise stress tests or imaging results, OR
  • You must have had several angioplasty or bypass surgeries. 

3. Congestive Heart Failure: Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart slows down and can’t pump enough blood to supply the oxygen that the body needs. As the heart weakens, it affects the kidneys’ ability to get rid of salt and water. Fluids begin to build up in the tissues, the lungs, and in the heart. Twenty percent of Americans over age 40 will develop CHF in their lifetimes.
To receive SSA disability benefits for congestive heart failure, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a poor ejection fraction or abnormal imaging result, AND
  • You must have a poor exercise stress test or several episodes of heart failure that required hospitalization in the past year. 

4. Aneurism: An aneurysm occurs when there is a weakness in the wall of a blood vessel. Blood collects in the weakness, causing a bulge. If the aneurism ruptures, the bleeding can be fatal. To receive disability benefits for an aneurysm, you must show trough medical imaging that you cannot exert yourself because you have an aneurism at risk of rupturing. 

Many people who qualify for SSDI are denied because they don’t have the documentation to support their disability claim. Our Massachusetts disability lawyers can help. To learn more, request a free copy of Boston SSDI attorney John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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