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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

What Women Need to Know About SSDI and Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association is sponsoring Go Red for Women, an initiative aimed at helping women recognize the signs of heart disease. 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women. It is responsible for one-third of all deaths in women over age 18, yet women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack and many doctors miss the signs of heart disease in female patients. Many women are not diagnosed until after they have suffered a heart attack.

If heart disease or a heart attack leaves you unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). However, research shows that women are less likely to be approved for SSDI than men and tend to receive a lower average monthly SSDI benefit for their heart condition ($920 for women compared to $1,188). Why the discrepancy?

Some believe that women tend to downplay the physical aspects of their jobs. In addition, women are more likely to have sit-down jobs. When applying for SSDI, it is important to list the physical aspects of each prior job as well as the reasons why you no longer can do that job. This can be the difference between getting your SSDI benefits approved and a denial.

Women with heart disease also should document any ongoing symptoms. Does your heart disease cause fatigue? Do you live with chest pain or shortness of breath? Do you have swelling in your feet or leg pain? Let your doctor know about all your symptoms.

Are you unsure whether you should apply for SSDI for heart disease? Consider this. SSDI is an insurance benefit. You pay for it with your FICA taxes. When you receive SSDI, your Social Security earnings record is frozen. This means your decreased income is not counted when calculating future retirement benefits. If you don’t apply for SSDI, it could negatively affect your retirement.

Social Security disability entitlement “freezes” during your period of disability. Because the years in which you collect SSDI benefits are not counted when computing future benefits, your Social Security retirement benefits may be higher than if your earnings were averaged over a greater number of years. SSDI also qualifies you for Medicare benefits, extended COBRA benefits, and possible dependent benefits.

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 the New England disability advocates at Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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