I am applying for SSDI for a heart condition. The Social Security Administration has asked me to take an exercise test. Why do I need an exercise test?

There are many heart conditions that potentially could qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). These conditions, and the criteria for approval, are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments under Section 4.00, Cardiovascular System.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses test results as part of the criteria to determine if a disability qualifies an applicant for SSDI. An exercise test is one such test, commonly used for determining the severity of heart conditions.

Exercise tests help doctors determine how much your heart condition affects your ability to live an active life. Exercise tests involve using common gym equipment, such as treadmills and exercise bicycles, to measure how the heart responds to physical activity. There are several types of exercise tests.

Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT): The exercise tolerance test measures the heart’s performance during exercise. The patient is asked to walk or ride a bike while the doctor takes an ECG. The ETT is used to test the severity of ischemic heart disease or chronic heart failure.

Doppler test: The Doppler test uses ultrasound to measure blood flow in the legs while a patient walks on a treadmill. This test is used for patients with peripheral vascular or peripheral arterial disease, and may be used to determine if a patient has chronic heart failure.

For some people with severe heart conditions, exercise tests are dangerous. If you have concerns about taking an exercise test, please speak with your doctor. If you feel any discomfort during the test, let your doctor know immediately.

Do you have additional questions about applying for SSDI for a heart condition? Request a free copy of our 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, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer