A Woman’s Guide to Social Security Disability for Cardiovascular Conditions

Social Security Disability Benefits and Woman With Heart ConditionsBoth men and women must meet the same requirements in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits because of heart conditions. While the Social Security Administration does not treat men and women differently with regard to eligibility because of cardiac conditions, the medical reality of heart problems may be different for women than it is for men. Accordingly, we encourage women who have been diagnosed with heart conditions or who have symptoms of heart conditions to learn about their rights.

The Truth About Women and Cardiovascular Disease

According to the American Heart Association:

  • Approximately 44 million women in the United States suffer from cardiovascular disease.

  • Approximately 33 percent of female deaths in this country are due to cardiovascular disease or stroke.

  • About 90 percent of women in the United States have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  • The symptoms of a heart attack are different for women than they are for men. Many women, and some of their doctors, do not recognize the symptoms of heart attacks in women.

These statistics about cardiovascular disease in women are scary. You can protect yourself, however, by understanding if you may be at risk for suffering heart disease and when you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Heart Disease in Women: Risk Factors and Symptoms

Cardiovascular disease may be undiagnosed in women until they have suffered a serious heart attack. You can help prevent that by understanding your risk factors and symptoms of female heart attacks.

A woman may be at risk of suffering a heart attack if she suffers from:

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • Obesity

  • Metabolic syndrome (a combination of fat around the abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides)

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Smoking

  • Lack of exercise

  • Poor diet

  • Low levels of estrogen after menopause

Most people recognize crushing chest pain as a sign of a heart attack. However, the signs of a heart attack may be more subtle in women. In men, blockages tend to occur in a main artery. Women tend to have blockages in the small arteries that supply blood to the heart as well as their main arteries. This condition is known as small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease. Symptoms of heart attacks in women include:

  • Pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest

  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulder, or upper back

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

  • Indigestion

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Sweating

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Unusual fatigue

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical care as soon as possible. Many women wait too long to seek help and don’t see a doctor until after irreversible heart damage already has occurred.

What to Do If You Become Disabled After a Heart Attack

If heart disease or a heart attack leaves you unable to handle the physical or mental demands of your job, then you may be able to file for Social Security disability benefits. Section 4.00 in the Listing of Impairments describes the types of cardiovascular conditions that may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. The requirements are the same for both men and women.

In order to get the benefits that you deserve, you should fully and accurately describe how your symptoms impact your activities of daily living and your ability to work. Do not minimize your symptoms or gloss over any of your job responsibilities. Instead, it is important to be honest about your health condition and your ability to work so that a fair determination can be made about your Social Security disability eligibility.

This can be a daunting and overwhelming task. However, you do not have to prepare your application or submit it alone. Instead, you have the right to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who will make sure that all of your rights are protected.

To learn more, please read a free copy of our report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, and please contact us directly via this website or by phone to set up a free initial consultation with an experienced disability lawyer.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer